“The world was created for me, I am but dust and ashes."
January 1st, unfortunately, isn’t a magic wand.
I’m reminded of this fact, far too often, when scanning old notebooks, text messages, and photos.
Change, in oneself and one's life, is a slow endeavor. Most transitions are painfully imperceptible, and other shifts so sudden they bring you to your knees. Growth is hardly noticeable until you look up and the thread of mundane days has been sewn into years. I’m grateful experience shows that the large leaps are less essential than small, intentional, consistent steps forward. It is, after all, the tiny two-degree shifts that land a plane in an entirely different state.
I was almost quick to write off 2021 as 2020 junior given the start (and the last few weeks). To color the messy mural of months as all wrong. Death will do that. Loss will do that. Grief will do that. They stain one's memory grey, bleeding onto brighter days without word or warning. But, just as a single mistake does not define a person, a handful of heartbreaking events does not define a year, a life. And death, loss, and grief have an undeniable way of making what truly matters more vibrant.
Over the last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience countless moments of joy. I’ve had time to love on family and friends. To shoot tons of (expensive asssss) film. To read and write, and not read and write at all. To laugh till I cry, and cry till I laugh. To think. To listen. To be understood. To feel the ocean foam between my toes. To down passion fruit martinis and squeeze fat limes over a bed of fresh oysters. To be reminded that a single day contains an entire lifetime and that every day’s another chance.
I’ve never felt a more deep, unwavering understanding of one of life’s greatest tensions. The words that Rabbi Simcha Bunim urged his pupils to etch on two pieces of paper and store in separate pockets:
On one: “The world was created for me”
On the other: “I am but dust and ashes.”
You and I have much to finish before returning to dust. For the ones we love and for ourselves. I have letters to send, a manuscript to finish, and Season 4 of Passing Through to record. We need each other, and I’m excited to share the process.
In the next post I’ll review the last year in notes and photos I’ve taken, moments of reflection, awe, and wonder, and simple pleasures too.
Happy New Year, beautiful people!
And thank you, always, for being here.