2022 was a truly tremendous year. For me anyway. Good days, bad days, “going half mad days,” of course. But if I were to drone over the past twelve months, my general consensus would be I’ve been terribly lucky (fortunate, blessed, tapped by Buddha–whatever).
There’s the obvious, of course. Professionally, my book The Iron Scar: A Father and Son in Siberia, launched (it didn’t “drop” folks–stop dropping things) to rave reviews. While that was going on, a dozen or so other pieces appeared and I am in negotiations for two separate books, Front Row Seat for one press and Wait/Loss for another. I’ve got two other projects here on my desk, and this blog is up to over 1500 unique readers each week. Plus, I STILL don’t write poetry–so there’s that.
My son and I hiked dozens of trails in as many state parks from the Potomac to the York. We spent more time outside in the last year than I ever thought we would, and he shot pictures which hang in galleries and private collections.
I sat on a pier on Lake Ontario and talked about life, about the passing of time, about the regatta to the east and the sunset to the west. We laughed about the things friends laugh about and sat in an understanding silence when we thought about our dads, about the inevitable change of seasons and generations.
In May my siblings and I brought our mother to dinner for her birthday and we laughed until we cried. We always do, and we sat remembering our father who lived a long full life, and celebrated our mother who is still very much her self, the matriarch as well as the focus of our jokes. I drove home appreciating her sense of humor and her absolute goodness that seemed to have leaped over me and into my son.
I hiked to the wind caves in Utah and we spent four days finishing each other sentences, each other’s thoughts, and laughed, and we walked in silence. We drove out to the salt flats of the ebbing Great Salt Lake and drank champagne and watched the sunset, and time didn’t stand still so much as we no longer cared about such measurements. We simply watched the sunset much like we had thirty-six years earlier two thousand miles east and toasted friendship, toasted whatever celestial changes brought two random paths together again. Maybe not so random.
I sat on my porch and watched deer, hummingbirds, osprey, and eagles. Michael and I stood on the sand at the river and watched sunsets, changing tides, talked about caminos and trainrides, talked about what’s next.
I had coffee with one of my dearest friends last week and we laughed for an hour about how beautiful life has been. I had a dozen lunches with another one of my closest friends, and we put aside our writing careers and talked about dads, we talked less about words than we did the quiet that comes between them, the grace of a smile, the love of a glance. He told me of the wildlife in South Africa and I told him of the snow in Utah.
The thing about time is we can make it stand still if we want. Go watch a sunset with someone, go sit on a pier and talk for hours, have lunch and laugh, have coffee and cry–the clock stops, the earth stops spinning, and everything that should be right is and everything that went wrong fades into something like a mist.
It was an extraordinary year. It was one of six decades of extraordinary years.
I woke. I got out of bed and watched the sun come up over the bay. I laughed. I spoke to my mother or my brother or my sister or my son, and at night we watched the planets and stars.
It was a year of moments I’ll never forget. I’m still sitting on the salt in Utah watching the sunset. I can still feel the calm waters of Ontario, I can still see Michael crouching down with his camera catching just the right angle of the sun on water.
I still understand perspective and the absolute power of love.
2022 was just fine.