I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

Is this a comment on what many of us agree was an unbelievable suckhole of a year -- sending it off with a pretty lousy sample of the photographic art?

Well, no. True, this picture is not likely to join my portfolio of gallery submissions in 2017, or like, ever, and yes, this year, by any measure, was Awful. Just, Awful.

But Venus was so high in the sky this week, and so brilliant, that it was not merely visible in Manhattan, it was dazzling. And watching it for two nights while I walked home from work made me so happy that I took this crappy picture with my phone just to remember the feeling. (Venus is the white dot in the middle of the picture, in case you're wondering. The other lights are apartment buildings.)

If Oscar Wilde had lived in New York, he would never have written, We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. You could spend months in a Manhattan gutter and never see a single star; the bright lights of my big city turn the sky into a dull opaque gray, and even bright planets like Venus or Mars are barely noticeable except under perfect conditions. So what, you might ask. No one on Venus cares about our Planet of Fools, and noticing a light in the sky that I happen to know is coming from a particular rock several million miles away does not improve my life in any detectable way.

And yet, it made me smile. It made me happy. It was a little gift from the universe, which has a memory much longer than our seasons or lifespans or election cycles. It was a reminder to look up, to look outward, to let go of the shoulder-hunched, gut-clenched posture I've adopted over the past several months, and think, calmly if I can, rationally if I can, about what comes next.

I don't know what that is yet. The helicopters are circling in the sky overhead, keeping an eye on the crowds in Times Square a few blocks away. Earlier when I was buying groceries, the cashier asked if I was ready for the new year. “No,” I said. “But it's coming anyway.” He thought that was hilarious. And now it's almost here, though I'll probably be asleep before the cheering starts.

Don't forget to look for the stars. Look up. Look around. Unclench. We'll get through this.

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