Here in the Peninsula Town, we are cleaning the good ship Rack 'Em and Stack 'Em. Husband is swabbing the decks. I'm tending to the galley (although, obviously, I've just snuck off to write this post), and the cabin boys and girl have been ordered to tidy their quarters. Aye, aye, sir!
The close intersection of our big cleaning day and the turn of the year reminds me of something Jane Hirshfield spoke of at the reading I attended earlier this fall. She told the audience that each year at New Year's she cleans, or attempts to clean, every surface and object in her house. As she explained it, this is an annual ritual observed by Buddhists. She said that, although she has been doing this for many years, each year she always finds something that she has never cleaned before.
I find this idea fascinating: just to touch each and every surface and object that form the space one calls home... and to find places, spaces, things, that one has never touched... and then, to touch them for the first time.
I imagine that within the context of a healthy dose of Buddhist detachment, this ritual cleaning is very life-giving. However, trust me: here at the good ship Rack 'Em and Stack 'Em, under the overhang of Catholic guilt, we are attempting no such feat.
Still, I have ritual on the mind. Ritual, perhaps from the Proto-Indo-European re(i), "to count, number" via the Latin for rite, "religious observance or ceremony, custom, usage."
The holidays are rife with ritual. Even now the masses are going through the ritual contemplation of New Year's resolutions, no? Well, not me. I'm not much one for resolutions this year -- probably because of the way all my best-laid plans and goals for 2011 were cleansed away by Moving to California. This year, I'm thinking: I might exercise more, or I might not. I might eat more veggies, or I might not. I might put a chapbook together, or I might not (I pause here to offer extra credit for anyone who can tell me where this phrase comes from: "Might go to Yale. Might not.") As for New Year's rituals, we don't have any hard and fast ones around here. Sometimes we cook a nice dinner, then the kids complain about it and hardly eat, then we all go to bed. Sometimes not.
As I look to 2012, I'm thinking only
|natural bridge at Santa Cruz|
shape and be shaped
stay on your path, the one you were made for
keep things in perspective
And, although I don't have a photo of it, the sign I caught sight of at a coffeeshop I drove by yesterday (and although I just had to get up from my desk, go into my bedroom, and lock the door to get it, and although someone has been hanging on that locked door crying "Mommeeeeee! Mommeeee! Mommeeeee!" for the last 10 minutes),
relax, you have plenty of time
Happy 2012, Reader.
(P.S. etymology info here)