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Monday New Year’s Photo Meditation: A Year of Dreams and Wonders


New year, new world . . . or so we hope.

By the calendar’s reckoning, we hovered between worlds for a length of time too minuscule, and yet too infinite, for our mortal minds to grasp: At 11:59 PM, we were in the old year, and the old world with it; at 12:00 AM, the space of a single second, we had moved on, or perhaps more accurately, had been moved on, into the new.

Because we don’t really have any choice in the matter, do we? No autonomy, no sovereignty of body or spirit when it comes to the passage of time. Time is the river, flowing endlessly onward, and we are swept along it by a force greater than ourselves. The best we can hope for is to dictate how we cross such thresholds, how we leave old year and world alike to memory and how we choose to engage with the new world the new year brings.

At this moment, I sit looking out the windows of our new home, a gift of the old year that has saved us in so many, many ways. I sit looking out upon this very scene, as familiar as the photograph and yet so different, too. The fence has changed, some of the taller latillas having since been moved to anchor other fences, some of the gaps filled in and others newly bare. The blue of the background sky is the same, and the veil-like wisps of white clouds too, and yet the gray of the storm has denied us its presence. So, too, does the snow deny us: We need it, hope for it, pray for it, and still it remains steadfastly our of reach. What above is a rich white blanket is here today dry grass and clods of broken earth, ashy brown soil as parched as the pale gold robe that surrounds it.

Still, if the details differ, the effect is much the same: It feels a bit like looking upon a world in microcosm, an image of ours reduced, if not to a snow globe, at least to something held safely under glass.

As wounded as our world is, an attempt to keep its newest incarnation under glass seems a natural impulse.

But a world under glass dies of oxygen deprivation.

It still feels, a bit, as though we remain between worlds for the moment. The old one of the year just past looms large in memory; the new one has not yet had time to find its place in a larger cosmos. And so at this moment, as the clouds move in and the skies turn striated with silver light, it is still possible to believe that the world of the new year remains safe under glass, protected from the injuries of intent and the harms of happenstance. It’s possible to rationalize caution, distance, stasis, if only for a few more moments.

But year and world alike become what we make them; they require our active engagement. Stasis becomes inertia and ennui, entropy; the world’s trajectory becomes not an arc but an inevitable disintegration beneath the press of other forces. If we choose not to reckon with them, we lose our chance to shape the world for good — for ourselves, yes, but more importantly, for generations unborn and unconceived. In our way, our duty to the children of future years and worlds is absolute. Caution is certainly warranted, and distance gives perspective, but neither is enough to hold the world safe.

On this first day of a new year, we have the chance to mold and shape a world newly born. How we see this child of the cosmos is key: Will it be a year of small cautious steps, of self-preservation and preserving what remains under glass — a museum piece, a diorama of what was and will never be again? Or will it be a year of vision, of wisdom, of engagement of body, mind, and spirit? A year of dreams and wonders and acts of generosity of spirit and love of and for the world?

Today is our first opportunity to help this child grow strong and healthy, to create a world of active harmony.

Let’s take it.

~ Aji






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