“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on. I hope you never have to think about anything as much as I think about you.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer
So here we are on New Year’s Eve, that most nostalgic and most promising day of every year when we look at the year in review with the sting of nostalgia, another year past. Through rose colored glasses, we cast our gaze on a future ripe with the promise of optimism and resolve. It is impossible not to have some amount of regret about the past, and I have been thinking throughout this year that the past accumulates far too quickly. One day you realize that you are sitting on a great big pile of past and the amount of available future is shrinking. Success in life means living with as few regrets as possible.
Most regrets come from missed opportunities: the book you didn’t write, the relationship you did not prioritize, the challenge you did not attempt. You never know when the luxury of time will run out.
In 1999, I was just about to start law school and I was in the midst of a bitter custody dispute over my 3 year old daughter. Kimmy, my very old and dear friend with a history of problems, was trying to get in touch with me because she needed my help. I declined to return her call because I didn’t have the time to deal with all of her chaos in the storm of my own issues. I never had the chance to see or speak to Kimmy again because she died three weeks later of a drug overdose.
Opportunities are flighty creatures. If you do not reach for them when they are within your grasp, there is no guarantee that they will ever present themselves again. It’s easy to lose something forever.
Relationships are tricky waters to navigate, and this is true whether it is a relationship with your child, your parent, your platonic relationships and your intimate ones. The problem with maintaining relationships is that it is not a skill that can be mastered. Relationships evolve; needs change; priorities shift.
The only way to demonstrate that someone is a priority is in a way that is meaningful to that person. This year at Christmas, my 17 year old daughter gave me a card. In it, she wrote, “You are love. You are light. . . I appreciate you more than anything else in my entire life and it will always stay that way forever. I love you. I love you. I love you.” It was the best Christmas gift I have ever received.
So here is my New Year’s wish for you.
Own your past, both the mistakes that have taught you as well as your triumphs.
Try not to dwell on the tipping of time’s scale. It does not matter if there are more memories behind you than those that you will make in the future. It is the quality of the journey that is important.
Make sure that the people who are priorities in your life can feel it in a way that is meaningful to them. You never know when you are seeing or speaking to someone for the last time.
Don’t neglect yourself. Breathe deeply. Do the things that satisfy your mind and your spirit. Eat wholesome foods. Sleep well. Exercise. And reflect.
Wishing you all the blessings of the New Year with hope, good health and joy in abundance.