I have always loved a window, especially an open one.
– Wendell Berry, American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer, from Jayber Crow
Enjoying the theater
My cousin, Janet, and her husband Tim, affectionately nicknamed “Timbuktu” by my kids when they were younger, came up to celebrate the New Year with us this year. One of things Tim wanted to do while up here was see the musical, The Book of Mormon, which is finishing up its run at the Orpheum Theatre (1192 Market Street, SF, 94102, 888.746.1799) in San Francisco later this month. They usually come up for the 4th of July holiday, so this visit was a nice addition. We went to the musical this past Monday evening, BARTing into the City and walking up several blocks in the colorful Tenderloin neighborhood for a Korean dinner before the show. The Book of Mormon, written by the creators of South Park, is an entertaining poke at the Mormons. Given that my best friend in elementary school was a Mormon and I had classmates in high school who were Mormons and went on to do their missions, I had a pretty good understanding and could appreciate the jokes.
David and I were grateful that Janet and Tim treated us to the musical. At the same time, it made us realize, as we appreciated the beautiful architectural details of the Orpheum Theatre, that it had been several years – four years to be exact – since we last came, to see Wicked with the kids. It reminded me of how we always say, we’re going to see more movies this year, we’re going to see more plays, readings, musicals, shows. And then four or more years go by. We enjoyed ourselves so much that this moment was all I need to make good on that wish. I must say that being in my 50s certainly makes me think about how I can’t be so casual about time. And I mean that not in a panicked way; rather, in a more mindful way. It’s like trying to make as many moments count as possible – without checking off lists.
New Year’s Day at Point Reyes
We usually spend New Year’s Day at Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley, but this year we decided to drive farther out to Point Reyes National Seashore, over an hour’s drive to the north of us. We were not alone in choosing this NYD destination, although we did get off to a late start as a result of some NYE partying and celebration of a good friend’s birthday. We did a couple of hikes, one of which was the Earthquake trail, situated over the San Andreas Fault.
We walked to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, which was barely visible in the fog, and then embarked on a short walk to see the inert elephant seals on the shore. Along the way, we saw herons, hawks, a rabbit, deer, horses, and whales in the distance, which made us appreciate the natural habitat that is home to so many animals. Those of us who live in the Bay Area oftentimes take for granted what’s right in front of us. Our NYD excursion was a reminder of all the beauty around us.
The Start of the New Year
This weekend we will be taking down the tree and all the decorations. Usually around this time I’m ready to return to the clean lines of our interior and move past Christmas. This year, however, I’m a bit sad to put everything away. Our tree held up remarkably well, hardly dropping any needles. While not as fragrant anymore, it looks as fresh as it did when we first put our ornaments and lights on it and topped it with our punched-tin star. We enjoyed spending evenings as a family in front of the fire and lit villages.
Maybe I’m at that age where experiencing and acknowledging the passage of time becomes more acute. I look back on the frantic month of December and ask myself: Did I appreciate everything? Did I appreciate enough? One of my measurements is looking at the kids and determining if they appreciated the season. I know they did, and that brings a lot of contentment. So as I face the New Year, I tell myself: Embrace everything – appreciate what brings joy and learn from our sorrows – and in everything, give thanks. Post script: As the year progresses, with each new day, find the windows and open them because when you do, look what you see, experience, and appreciate: