Today is the equinox. This weekend is my birthday, my Jesus year: I will be thirty-three years old. It occurred to me that I could spend this year trying to get to know him again (it’s been a while). I could read the gospels every day and meditate on who he was that year, that year of his death. I could meditate on who I am, this year of my life — the points of connection, the differences. Perhaps I could find out if there’s still a conversation to be had between us.
I have been following my New Year’s Resolution to live the Tao this year. I feel something happening in me; it feels like what happened toward the end of my time in France, when all this slow, internal work came together and bore fruit. This continual trying and forgetting and not spending effort on the forgetting but trying again. I’ve been more aware, a shift. I remember to feel things. I remember the word enlightenment, because lately it feels like a room with the lights on — nothing transcendent or ecstatic, but you can see where the furniture is.
The last time this happened, the key was acceptance: I accepted the distance, the dryness, and this opened up a richness that quenched my thirst in each consecutive moment. I’ve noticed acceptance in this time, too. I’ve been thinking about time passing, getting older, death and the fleeting. I am always thinking about these things, but lately I think of them with acceptance instead of heartache. Here we are, then.
Last night I said to my husband, I don’t know if what I’ve been feeling is acceptance or complete dispiritedness, because there’s some of that in it too. I’ve been wondering if this flavor of acceptance is one of the differences between who you are in your thirties and who you are in your teens. In your teens, you have this sweeping emotional capacity, ready to fan to flame wherever it’s needed, and you believe it’s needed often. Your hand is strong and you grip life tightly and you believe that’s what it takes to hold onto life. In your thirties, you spend less on this and that; you save your capacity until the need is greater. Your hand is strong but not as fresh, and you hold life and know that it’s there whether you hold it or not.
There is dispiritedness in me.
Acceptance is a redeemer, though. There’s something to be gained, some great strength, a rebuilding, just in looking at yourself and saying, “Here we are.” I guess if you’re standing in your center, you’re ready to pivot. So acceptance prepares you for movement.
Anyway, as I was thinking about my birthday and my New Year’s Resolution, it occurred to me to spend my Jesus year in the attainment of perfection. I thought I might drink the experience of these twelve months as a kind of communion, to share with him his life and truth and pain, his resurrection and his death. What might one learn from that sort of thing?
You are a man. You are a Middle Eastern man. You don't know me from Adam and why would you care? Except wait, you're more than just that bundle of historical assumptions I'm making, because look at how you treated the children.
In that case, you are a complete mystery. Who are you?
This year, you die. You are young, just like me, or as Leonard Cohen might say, almost young. You've learned some important things over the years, but you can remember your childhood, the freshness of it. They've been looking at you as a man, though, for a long time — longer than they do in our culture, where it takes so long for kids to grow up. So maybe you don't remember your childhood the same way that I remember mine. Still: you're young; you've got your strength about you.
Anyway, you die this year; you suffer and die for something important, something you've been working for. You're an activist and it's going to kill you this year. Did you know that? I thought I'd tell you just in case.
The word I was looking for wasn’t acceptance or dispiritedness. It’s resignation.