2023 is just two days from today. It’s easy to forget. Christmas eve, Christmas day. The busyness. The shopping, parties, cozy nights, and moments of spiritual wonder.
And one week later the world passes a landmark. My friend’s kids celebrate it at school as a “sun celebration.” A day they commemorate the earth completing a journey. A path untraveled before and never to be traveled again in the same way. No sun celebration is the same.
Our ancestors, the ancients of every civilization, viewed new years as a gift. Throughout the near and far east, the cradle of human life, a theme emerged. Our ancestors, regardless of race, creed, religion, or geography, marveled at the “music of the spheres.” The orbit of the planets and the universe itself creates a song. An unending, inaudible praise to some greater power. Something beyond ourselves, our sight, and our best thoughts.
I hope you’ll forgive my musings. Within them is buried what I want to express. Life is beautiful. If we’ve learned anything in the last three years, I hope it’s to love and cherish life. As 2020 bled into 2021, I and many others hoped for significant renewal. It didn’t happen. Then came 2022, and the same hopes were met with the same results – mediocre and muddled.
After two go’s on this merry-go-round, I’ve learned my lesson. It’s not about a simple orbit around the sun marking some expansive change. It’s about noticing the simple beauty in life – the “music of the spheres.”
As we close out 2022 and begin 2023, that’s my hope. I don’t have outrageous goals. I won’t be president in 2023 or summit Everest. My life will remain relatively simple, quiet, and private. And that is marvelous, it is a gift. A chance to marvel at the simple joys of my marriage, my children, my work, a chance to laugh at a silly joke, a chance to be humbled by a compliment, a chance to brighten the day of a downtrodden stranger, coworker, or friend, a chance to set aside distractions and be fully, wholly present.
So in 2023, my goal isn’t to do something extravagant. My goal is to do simple things well. To show love, compassion, and generosity when it’s not expected, to speak kindly, to offer grace when anger is understandable. In 2023, I want to get back to basics and focus on the simple things that matter. That is, people and serving others.
That’s easy to say. Maybe you read this with some skepticism, I get that. 2022 has been hard for many of us, but some more than others, what I can say is that I’m not alone. My friend in Florida and I recently spoke. This year his marriage ended and he lost his job due to market downturn, his world collapsed. Our worlds are so different. But I asked him about his thoughts with Christmas and a New Year approaching.
To be honest, he told me about the “music of the spheres.” He expressed a desire to get back to basics. His year, his “sun celebration,” was excruciating. But we arrived at the same thing, our paths were different, yet here we stand together in friendship. Life is precious, fragile, and marvelous. Despite our different experiences, good and bad, we see the same thing: life is what matters. Money, prestige, the trappings of a “successful” life. These are nice but not necessary. In 2023, we both want to experience life – it’s highs and lows – without fear.
If you’ll humor me just one more moment. My same friend quoted a song that’s been on his heart. I think its lyrics are worth remembering as a new year begins.
“I saw something they can’t take away…
There were pages turned,
With the bridges burned.
Everything you lose is a step you take.
So make the friendship bracelets,
Take a moment and taste it.
You got no reason to be afraid,
You can face this.”
Regardless of where we are right now, we can appreciate that poetic truth. Life is painful, but it’s breathtaking and deserves our whole selves. I want that in 2023. For me and for you.
As we round out 2022, I hope you’ll join me in looking forward to 2023. I don’t know the specifics of your exact situation. Maybe this year sucked. Maybe it was phenomenal. However, I know we can pause together and say this life is marvelous, painful, and worth our full attention. I can’t wait to see what that means with you in 2023. Either way, my hope and wishes for us all is to lose sight of the things that distract us so easily and focus on what matters: each other, our world, and our journeys together.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and simple, full New Year,