She’s been called many things but I like to think of her as a guardian – hand carved, slightly weathered, adorned with an ostentatious brass handle. Irregardless if I consider her a barrier, or a door, she’s imposing as hell. What awaits me in 2018 is still a mystery, but all I want to do is turn around, and run straight back to the beginning of 2017.
Why? Because given the opportunity I know I could do better. You know what I mean? Imagine if you will that you are an educator, you teach one subject, two blocks in a row. The second one is always like BOOM.
Have you ever wished for a do over? A chance to tweak your words, actions, deeds. Who benefits most? Me or the poor schmuck who had to sit through my class? It’s a worthy question but one that I would rather avoid. At this point in life I recognize my strengths and weaknesses, I tend to stick with what I know, and scoot around the rest. It’s called a strategy people.
The good news is you don’t have to do 2017 over again, as tempting as that might seem, because 2018 is right in front of you. I think it’s set up this way for a reason. All you have to do is open the door, let her in…(is that a Beatles song?)
So recently I spent a few days in Las Vegas, not to worry, I was reading Cynthia Bourgeault (my current obsession) on the plane, so I came fortified with the good stuff. I was all a buzz about pouring myself out to others, searching this swarm of humanity for opportunities to serve, refusing to judge the general debauchery of my surroundings. I know, I know…the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
We met up with good friends at the Palazzo. This is our unofficial kick off to an entire year of celebrating because we all tied the proverbial knot back in 1983 (yes that means we lived through the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and The Beatles, but also genocides, apartheid, feminism, civil rights movement, landing on the moon, assignations, Microsoft, and Apple. We saw the end of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, and O. J. Simpson commercials, oh yes we’ve also experienced occupy protests, terrorist attacks, economic disasters, and recently #metoo. We’ve lived under eleven presidents, from Eisenhower to Trump, and who knows Oprah might be next), and by simply mentioning this to the server, a dessert magically appears, with sparklers no less.
The free dessert plan is going quite well.
The plethora of Vegasland amusements leave me full but not satisfied. Allen Watts refers to this as “all retch and not vomit.” Crude but edifying. But stay with me because things are about to change…
While standing in line for Celine Dion I stumble on my metaphor du jour.
As if a seasoned F.B.I. agent I noticed the woman standing directly in front of me left the price tag on her garment. There it was, blatantly dangling off the collar of her new red blouse, securely attached by a clear plastic thread.
I lightly tap her on the shoulder and mention the snafu.
The minute I said, “Can I pull this off?” I recognized the double meaning.
She laughs and says, “Yes, please.”
I give it a yank and thank God the plastic gives instead of the blouse. She quickly stuffs the renegade tag in her purse.
She says, “thank you, I hope you didn’t notice the sale price.”
“Never even looked,” I assure her. (Total lie, it was marked down to $22.99)
We chat it up while we wait for the line to move and yes I totally envision this swanky new halo forming just above me. We part ways at the door (so metaphoric) but she turns and gives me a little wink before blending into the crowd.
Now I have never seen Celine Dion in concert, certainly not at Caesars Palace, with over four thousand people in attendance. As Larry and I get settled into our seats, we share a few pleasantries with the neighbors, and somehow Larry manages to get a selfie of us posted on this gigantic screen next to the stage. My recently erected halo is noticeably absent.
A hush settles over the crowd, the lights dim, as the red velvet curtains dramatically part. Celine magically appears center stage wearing a stunning gold dress. It’s reminiscent of Moses leading his people to freedom, just as dramatic, and marginally hopeful. I wonder where she’ll be taking us. Isn’t this the land of milk and honey?
Celine is belting out “I surrender,” as images of a much younger Celine appear on the screens, along with a few snapshots of her deceased husband, and beloved children. It is an emotional jolt, but then you add an entire orchestra, good lighting, velvet voice, and it’s absolute magic. She has performed over a thousand concerts in Vegas (BOOM). I notice the young girl sitting next to Larry is crying so hard I hand her my napkin.
When the first song ends, the audience erupts into a thunderous applause, so loud you can barely hear Celine say, “No, let her come up.”
I’m not sure how to describe what happened next, but this rather drunk woman takes control of the mic, drapes herself around Celine, as three bodyguards close in. I’m trying to decide if this is fake, planned, or totally unexpected?
Celine doesn’t miss a beat, she calls off the guards, holding the woman study she says, “I’m glad you came up on the stage, you wanted to get closer to me.” She looks the lady in the eye, tells her she loves her, and connects with her from the heart. All the while gently moving the women towards the stairs.
She offers this woman dignity and respect generously bringing the audience into the experience. Audrey Hepburn says, “People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, redeemed, never throw out anyone.” What a class act. This is exactly what Bourgeault was alluding to in her book and all I seem to be capable of is removing tags! Brilliant.
The concert was magical. I didn’t want it to end. I feel much the same about life and I believe this is the best kept secret of middle-age. Think of all the emergencies, conflicts, suffering and tags that are out there waiting for us to show up, but this time we get to tackle them with fifty plus years of experience, BOOM.
This year I’m going to leap more, worry less, laugh often, with fewer judgements, less clinging, more tenderness, generosity, compassion, and as if life were an elaborate dessert, I will layer it all with thick, sticky, sweet love, and maybe a sparkler.
Sometimes I get to be the teacher but most often I’m a student of life. So you might be considering as we open the door to 2018, “Can I pull this off?”
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake.” Sir Francis Bacon.
I’m Living in the Gap, drop in any time.
PS. If you want something sweet just click Blessing for a spectacular poem by Carrie Newcomer.
PSS. Not to brag but in four years I’ll be eligible for discounts on movie tickets, large popcorn, and medium soda.
PSSS. I might be the only one who finds this significant but included in my prayers today were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, along with David, Ralph, Cole, and Tammy.
PSSSS. It says in Colossians, chapter 3, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone…And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity…AND BE THANKFUL.” (I stole this from the PowerPoint of another teacher who totally has her shit together 🙂