At the Beginning of the Road
Dec. 30, 1996
By D.C. Sorensen
Like footprints though the snow, our works and deeds are easy for us to evaluate and ponder if only we turn around and look. Pondering is one of the few things Man is good at compared to other neighboring species. After the gaiety of Christmas, many of us get serious and rethink about what we did and where we are going. The rest just get drunk at a New Year’s party. As yet, I haven’t decided which group is spending their time more wisely.
There is wisdom in the stance “What the heck- let’s party.” The ancients even gave it a label and a philosophy. The label is “carpe diem” with literally translates to “seize the day.” In plain Anglo-Saxon that means “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” The philosophy is Epicureanism. Epicurus was a Greek dude who believed we should enjoy all earthly delights as much as we like as long as it does no harm to those around you or to yourself. He never mentions hangovers as being harmful, so I guess Epicurus enjoyed a good party.
By nature, I tend to belong to the other group. I don’t prefer big parties. I don’t drink more than one or two drinks at a time. My annual intake of alcohol would probably place me somewhere between a Mormon and Betty Ford. Long ago I enjoyed a good buzz from drinking, but somewhere in my late twenties I just lost the desire to do so. I guess I did not see how the headaches or lack of alertness the next day was worth an hour or two of feeling high. This either makes me particularly superior to drunks or just a dull person. I don’t disapprove of people getting a buzz form adult beverages. Most adults use alcohol in reason and most seem to withstand the after-effects better than me.
I tend to enjoy a small party with only a handful of people. It is fun to sit and have a very long chat with each person. I enjoy seeing what has been knocking around in their heads. Life brings many things for us to deal with. The variety of experience is limitless. I enjoy this and I enjoy knowing other people’s internal journeys. Perhaps this is why I enjoy long meals with quiet conversations instead of loud music and forty people. Even though I have enjoyed the big parties I have been at. I usually went home thinking about how I did not have time to converse with so-and-so.
I spend most New Year’s Eves with my wife and children. We talk about what the children have accomplished. We talk about what we’d like to do next year. The kidlets make long lists of resolutions and I make none. Though this year, I did have one resolution that I actually kept. I had resolved in 1996 not to visit my main place of employment. I succeeded. I am a true virtual employee. I contact the radio station I work for only by phone, fax, or email. I avoid all the office politics, turf struggles and meetings.
In reflecting upon the past year I find it important to remember that much of what is sent our way is beyond our control. We are part of a free universe that creates unpredictable results. Weathermen can’t predict the weather three days in advance and I can’t predict what I will be doing three hours hence. Like everyone else, I have a list of what I want to accomplish and I try to fit it in between all the things I have to do that chance throws in my way. On a good day, I can do about half of what I want and half what chance wants done.
So when you look back on your tracks in the snow, remember that you did put them there, but that you still had to step around trees, rocks and bushes that came in your way. It is best not to become maudlin about the past. Other may have happier paths, but what counts in my book is the quiet wisdom you acquire in your unique life. I can’t superficially tell you to be happy because the best is yet to come. That advice is only good for the young.
As an adult, we have all made the leap to our future and it is not totally up to us as to where we will land. Of course, the ultimate is dealing with the “D” word, but that is something unavoidable so it is best to press on as if it does not exist. I don’t believe death should be the determining factor to living. It is life that counts.
The tracks I have left leave as many questions as the tracks I find from other people. There is beauty in the snowy world of ours. Let us keep our eyes open. Enjoy tracking life and enjoy leaving tracks. Happy New Year to all.
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