I don’t know about you, but 2019 has been an important year for me. I faced challenges that truly helped me understand what’s important in my life and what needed to change.
In times of crisis it’s easy to be overwhelmed by emotions and dragged down by negativity. And there were times when 2019 seemed to be one long crisis.
I’m not a mystic, or someone who believes that “everything happens for a reason.” Well, except in the literal sense. I don’t believe that there is a Hollywood-style narrative to my life in which difficulties are always overcome and I walk, redeemed, into the sunset. I’m allergic to heartwarming!
Still, I’m a survivor. The late, great Carrie Fisher, in her one-woman show “Wishful Drinking,” made the tart remark that survivors have to keep creating crisis situations “so we can demonstrate our gift!” and perhaps there’s some truth to that in my case. Still, I’ve come through by standing up for myself, being ethical and showing empathy, by insisting on never giving up on people.
Lie to me, cheat, act out, call me names: You can do whatever you like but once you are in my life I will never give up on you.
Last year began with my overhauling my treatment space and once more creating a beautiful haven. This was immediately followed by someone sharing my apartment who not only destroyed that space but through attempting to defraud me almost lost me my home.
Do you sometimes think that positive action attracts negative actors? I could have believed in demons after what happened, if I were the kind of guy who believes in them.
But the only demons I’ve ever met are inside me. The battle of my life is my battle of choices: Which way? Which person? How should I act in this situation? What’s the easy choice, and what’s the right choice, and do I have the courage to go with the second option?
I haven’t been to a movie theatre in years, ever since we all stopped leaving the house, but I’m going to break that trend and see Terrence Malik’s “A Hidden Life” as soon as I can. The genius film director, a true visionary and poet, has made a film about making the right choice. “A Hidden Life” is the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, an ordinary Austrian farmer, who was sentenced to death by the Nazis because he refused to sign a pledge of allegience to Hitler and fight for them.
His wife, his friends, everyone begs him just to sign the pledge, to save himself. But he can’t. It’s not the right thing to do. And so he goes to his death. I’m overwhelmed even writing these words.
How many of us could do the right thing in those circumstances? Was his life wasted? What might he have accomplished had he saved himself? Was his act just selfish and stubborn and meaningless?
It will be a difficult film to see. Malick has a way of opening your heart to the beauty of the everyday.
One thing that I accomplished this year that I’m most proud of: I started playing the piano again. I trained as an aspiring concert pianist, and ended up – teaching. Talk about being a walking cliché! My friend gave me a full-size Roland keyboard a few years ago, and it was just gathering dust. And I finally started to play it.
Man, I was rusty! At first, it was like I’d forgotten even how to read music. But I persisted and now I play better than I did when I was aspiring. Just to be able to play the music of Beethoven, the composer and artist I worship, is a joy. I learned the Six Bagatelles, Opus 126, his last piano pieces. They are beginner pieces in terms of overall difficulty, but trust me, they are not easy to play! And now I play just for myself.
This coming year, I’m going whole hog on promoting my book, “A Slow, Painful Death Would Be Too Good for You (and Other Observations).” It’s a compilation of rewritten and expanded personal and political essays from my long-time blog of the same name, and all of my ridiculous and off-the-wall humor is very much present in it. You can buy it on Amazon, or your favorite online retailer; here’s the Amazon link to the e-book and paperback versions. The hardcover is coming soon.
Feeling blah on this wintery day? I have a massage special for end of the decade: come and see me today for 20% off. That’s $80 instead of $100, so you’ll have more to spend on Champagne tomorrow night.
Can’t make today? You can pay by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to lock in the savings for later in the week, up to the 5th of January – but please note: I AM AWAY from the 31st through the 2nd of January. You can pay today and come on the 3rd, 4th or 5th of the month.
Happy New Year and let’s start the decade right!
Take care until I see you again,