Because I do not care to reflect on failures on New Year’s Eve, I shall do so today: a ho-hum day in December with no associated fanfare aside from its relationship to the other days in December. For example, it is three days before my dad’s birthday. It is six days before the winter solstice. It is eight days before my brother’s birthday. It is ten days before Christmas. And, speaking of Christmas, it is Gaudete Sunday which, of course, marks the odd relationship between Sundays and Christmas in Advent. It is the joyful Sunday, meant for rejoicing. But what would rejoicing be without an exhaustive assessment of the failure from which one is delivered, the despair from which one has escaped?
The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.
Is 35:1-6a, 10
So, before I get to the singing and the leaping and the everlasting joy, let me pause for a moment at the ugly reflection of this past year.
Quitter. I vowed to never again be one after I quit the lead of a play due to the requirement of kissing a boy (I think I was twelve; I was embarrassed to kiss someone in front of my parents. And I didn’t know how, having never kissed one.) When I told my family what I did, I was met with that most terrible of terrible reactions: disappointment. But this year has been nothing, nothing, but quitting. I’ve quit four jobs (the Rock, the Scribe, the Tutor (more like I worked myself out of a job), the “Educator”) and have put in my resignation for another. I’ve quit two careers (physics, medicine.) I’ve quit goals for my life, for my personal growth. I’ve quit ideals. And I’ve quit trying to figure out whether or not “I’ve quit” is a statement which even makes sense.
All of that quitting was set up as an attempt to achieve better, to make it to more. Not only have I quit, I’ve failed. Life is as it always was, just spread a little bit thinner. Were they right? Is it true that, in the end, you do not regret the things you do but only those things you didn’t? Am I now saddled with double the guilt, for the things I didn’t do though I tried, and the things I did in order to try? Maybe I should quit regrets.
But at some point, all this quitting will leave me with nothing. It will leave me nothing. That’s how I feel now: threadbare, deficient, weak, a shadow, a shade.
At least the boom finds my lap solid enough. And with that I will turn to rejoicing, for there is life growing inside of me and I myself have so much life to live.