The strokes of January felt heavy and the more I sought to fight it, a persistent irritation bubbled to the surface. There is no doubt (especially from those who know me the most) I tend to sink into periods of heavy introspection and reflection. There is a consequence to this kind of paying attention; I cannot easily shuffle my feelings to the side and instead, constantly thumb through the deck in my hands. This thin-skinned self is a part of my marrow and even though I momentarily tried to tame and learned to bury it in law school, my natural inclination is to meditate on emotions that keep repeating themselves, whether it’s sadness, joy, anger or ambivalence.
I suspect some of my angst this month is tied to the passage of time and the realization of how its swift ebb sometimes appears sudden even though I’ve had fair warning of its pacing. The days of this month felt so raw because of the external etchings of time. The first week of January ushered in double-digits for our only daughter and the realization that, as a mother, I’d only experience this milestone with her once. I kept staring at the picture of me holding her when she was two weeks old. The lightness of her body rested in my arms, my limbs creating a comforting nest. A Mona Lisa smile sits on my face while I bowed my head, staring at our little girl.
My daughter is fond of rollerblading and will often strap on her blades and will glide near this particular photograph. It is then the passage of time becomes palpable when she slides about the house, pausing to ask questions I sometimes struggle to answer. There is so much I don’t know, I’ve come to realize, even to my own questions or inquiries. I am convinced the more I live, the less I know. The frustration of this theme spilled into other areas of life as well.
Hurt feelings over discovering how expendable you can become as well understanding the true transience of the world occurred in unexpected ways. It didn’t help that childhood icons like David Bowie, Glen Frey and Alan Rickman passed away this past month. It’s hard to digest sometimes, living and acknowledging dying at once. The words of Paul Kalanithi in When Breath Becomes Air, also rang in my ears, especially this quote in particular, “Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.”
I ended January by watching Everest and an Indian movie called Piku, where a daughter cares for her quirky, but elderly father, who dies at the end. I drifted in and out of the movie, only to wake up when the daughter mourns for her lost father. I gave into my tears, the grief so removed, but so close, and again, a reminder of what simmered to the top. In 2016, I realized, I will mark seven years since I have talked to my father – if I think about this fact too much, it might swallow me whole.
The ramblings of the month (as well as this post, I suspect) intersected on Sunday, when my daughter captured the sun setting, a farewell to the beginning of the year, the brilliance of the yellow and the edges darkening around it. It seemed an appropriate way to commemorate January, a way of acknowledging the melancholy, but leaving hope for some happiness.