Saturday, December 31, 2011

Needles and pins

This post comes from the sleeper berth of my truck in Needles, CA. It's just Elvira (my truck) and I, the desert and, somewhere not too far away, the Colorado River. I am parked in a lonely gravel lot across from a gas station on the edge of town.

I've never been one to celebrate much on New Year's Eve, though I did get married on this date in 1994. One of my favorite short-lived traditions was attending First Night, either in Rockford, Il, or elsewhere. One particularly cold New Year's countdown, we made the nightly news.

I remember being sick and not even being awake to see in Y2K. Other years was just a movie and a shared bottle of wine. I've never gotten drunk on New Year's. Been to a few parties, out to eat at fancy restaurants, but that's about it. So... sitting alone in my truck on the edge of a desert town seems okay with me.

It was a good day to end 2011. I drove to Colton, CA, in the early morning and saw the San Bernardino mountains in the pinkish light of early dawn. I passed by the Pacific Crest Trail and recognized the railroad tracks and Mormon Rocks, remembering the hot, windy conditions endured when hiking this section of trail. Later, passing it going the other way, I caught sight of actual trail and saw a backpacker. That brought a smile to my face.

2011 will be remembered as a good year. It is one of those rare years where I set specific resolutions and actually managed to keep them. I lost 20 pounds to reach my target weight of 200 pounds. And I got a job. Other resolutions met I'd rather keep private, but I know what has been achieved. My life improved for the better this year. I'm better off in many ways, than I was on this date a year ago. I'm worse off in one regard, but gave my all to try and make it work.

In 2012...

I'd like to finish the novel I've started and get it published.

Want to spend as much free time as possible with my son. He's old enough to be interesting, and I realize he's only a kid for a few years. This time is precious.

I'm going to continue to look for a teaching position. While long haul trucking has its allures, I want to be closer to home and closer to my son.

I want to run at least every other day and complete a 10k race in under 50 minutes. That's an unmet resolution from last year.

I don't want any big changes in 2012. In fact, I'm sick of change, shellshocked by surprise. I'm a restless soul, willing, even, to change jobs, but that's about it. May 2012 be a year ofl normalcy, family, and simplicity.

Earlier today, walking the perimeter of my trucking company's terminal, I saw a desert willow tree. It was a smaller tree, but its drooping canopy hid a flat, shady spot. It seemed such a peaceful place, Buddha and his Bodhisattva tree.

For just a few moments, lingering at this spot, I felt peace, transcending my petty concerns, in stark contrast to my previous dark mood. It inspired me to call an old friend and we had a fun, laughter-filled conversation. Later, still walking, I became acutely aware of my senses, the smell of creosote and desert flowers assailed my senses. I thought, how nice it is here in southern California. What a treat to enjoy the sun-baked scents of vegetation on the last day of the year.

But at that time, in those moments, my senses were keenly aware and those previous troubles completely forgotten. I wad living in the moment.

I wish I had the secret ability to conjure that peace and clarity, but unfortunately it is a rare treat. In 2012 I'd like to have more living unself-consciously in the moment moments like that and will work on making those moments happen rather than being a grateful recipient.

In any case, Happy New Year!