On one of those disorienting days between Christmas and New Year I circumnavigated a local park in an attempt to keep my indolent, sulky winter blood circulating. A damp grey mist draped itself listlessly about the bare, frozen treetops, and squirrels spun in frantic circles across the hard dirt in an 11th hour nut-hunt. I was pondering the looming anniversaries– the western world’s and my own fall on the same day– and weighing up their significance. The rest of the animal kingdom seems content to note the passage of time using nature’s convenient seasonal landmarks, but it’s a bit too inexact for us: we like to confine our cake and self-examination to an agreed upon day.
It would suit my elitist contrary nature to dismiss these annual celebrations as bourgeois distractions, but I have to admit it is fun to let the imagination loose and marvel at our rock having completed another orbit of the sun, calmly following its predestined path without stopping to recognise the crushing futility of it all and going back to bed. My imagination is far more suited to examining that achievement than my critical mind, which would collapse in a heap at the magnitude. These elliptical thoughts, as I completed another rotation of the park, led me to test further the limits of my brain power by contemplating the outrageous speed our little orb is spinning as it makes its journey. These limits were very quickly reached and I realised it’s no wonder this time of year brings on bouts of dizziness. I sat on a bench. The traditional Champagne may be the best way to regain equilibrium.
I continued on, and, rounding the top of the park, happened upon a young couple in athletic wear, facing each other silently from opposite ends of a tennis court, rackets hanging from motionless arms. It occurred to me that they might be practising some sort of tantric tennis, wherein game, set, and match are achieved without a ball being touched. Confused, I went home and thawed the stock I’d made from the Thanksgiving turkey and made a pot of congee. It’s a slow, gentle process, perfect for distracting me from thoughts of our endless galactic careering.
On New Year’s morning I stood at my bathroom window and watched a hawk on a branch, a flurry of downy feathers flying as he calmly picked a smaller bird to pieces. What luck! Surely an encouraging start to the year.
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