New Orleans For more than 30 years I’ve taken some vacation days at the end of the year so I could spent time with my children and family, sort of a sorry payback or smart pay forward, as they say now, for a life with lots of travel. We revive with a couple of days near a beach, if we can afford to get out of town, or in an especially good year a week or two in some great city like Madrid or Lisbon, usually after some local disaster reduced the airline ticket costs.
It’s not that there’s no work. There are always loose ends to try to pull together. Painting that had been postponed for months with walls begging for primer. Piles of tools and gear waiting for the right moment to be put up in the garage, which the kids have always called a shed. The pile of magazines that need to be finished. The books ordered and stacked for the year’s reading. Figuring out how to use electronics gifted or gotten.
And, there’s work-work, some unpleasant, like moving to evict a bully boy, car dealer, radio huckster and hustler off of the KABF tower where they have been virtually squatting for years as they took advantage of a volunteer crew and a nonprofit mentality, and some just plain necessary like spending hours working out the calendar for the coming year. Can the trip to Buenos Aires be postponed another year, since Nairobi has been put off too long, and Scotland and India are already booked? How many weeks will be set aside for Little Rock? When do we open the second Fair Grinds Coffeehouse? Can we get the organizing drives finished? Can we get the Citizen Wealth service centers up and running in time? When will I finish the book that has occupied me for 10 years and is now finally within reach? These are all the kinds of questions that require some quiet space for reflection and planning, which is always the scarcest commodity of all work.
We try to finally go see some movies so we have an opinion on the year’s best, notching the Dallas Buyer’s Club and American Hustle so far, thumbs up on those two, and looking for Llewellyn Davis and the Wolf on Wall Street in town now. I’m still interested in Nebraska and though Gravity looked boring from the description, we’ll watch it, if it’s around or someone finds it on Netflix for us. I listen to some music finding it unbelievable how amazing it can be to hear MIA rap or bubbling rhymes and voices of Vampire Weekend.
It was eerie to see that President Obama has been mimicking our television choices with time spent on HBO’s Game of Thrones (which with 6 million illegal downloads leads the BitTorrent rip-and-run listing as well), and Boardwalk Empire, and our binge watching early in the year of Breaking Bad and House of Cards. We’re OK with it though. It gives us a funny kind of hope.
An item caught my eye while writing this in David Brooks’ column in the Times. It seems that surveys indicate that the average American falls in love 2.5 times in a lifetime and psychologists say that we’re only capable of 5 or 6 true loves through the span of our years. Not sure what to make of that other than it being an argument for keeping the family small.
All of which reminds me that in tabulating the ups and downs at year end and getting ready to begin another, that responding to the surprises are as important as all of the resolutions made, and that some of the major ones are always the magical gift of life itself and the wonders of the people and world all around us.