I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Day 2012

Craig Marker
I found this picture on line and need to go back and learn more about Andi Levin, who writes her blog from Seattle and sounds very interesting. I wanted a picture of the Space Needle at New Years and found this picture on her blog from last year's celebration. Her blog title is "Are we falling or flying... and will we ever know?" As a skydiver, I think I know the answer to that one: both. We are doing both.

Last night when the new year began, I was asleep and awakened by firecrackers going off. The bedside clock confirmed it: midnight. The sounds faded after a short while and I fell asleep again. Fortunately the neighbors must have put their dogs inside for the evening, because I didn't hear them barking. But then again, they might have been cowering in fear. Fireworks are not my favorite thing, either. At least I know what is causing the ruckus; they don't.

Yesterday was truly a turning point for me in regards to the theft I wrote about last week. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve were night and day from each other. My recovery from the event is almost complete now, although I will always have lost money and security that will not come back. My sense of vigilance is heightened and I don't think I will ever be as trusting as I was before.

This morning I woke from a strange dream. I was in a restaurant with friends and had put my purse under the table. We were enjoying an ice cream dish together, when another woman cried out that her purse was taken. I looked under the table and mine was gone, too. Although the sense of loss was great, I knew that my driver's license and credit card were with me and not in my purse, and I was glad for me and sorry for my friend who was not so lucky. While lamenting our losses, a man walked up and stood in front of us, and he had my keys and pictures that had been taken in the theft. I looked at my old driver's license and a picture of my son Chris. I cried with gratitude.

And then I woke up, looked at the clock and realized I had slept longer than usual. I pondered the meaning of the dream as I made my tea, and now I'm here drinking it and writing off the top of my head, with little idea of the direction I want to take this post. It's a new year, and I read all my friends' new posts and left comments. It's my usual morning activity, sitting up in bed in the dark with my partner asleep beside me. The clicking of the keys is the only sound; it's my favorite time of the day.

The Serenity Prayer has been uppermost in my mind this past week. Most of us know it, but here is the first stanza:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
It was written by Reinhold Niebuhr, I discovered in my google search just now. I've seen his name before but just learned that he was a theologian who died in 1971. I'll go study that link a bit more once I'm finished with this post. This is what happens to me these days: I look something up and head off on a tangent without meaning to. Our world is so incredibly connected, plugged in, and information of all kinds instantly available at my fingertips, so a little discipline is needed here. I feel the need to say something I haven't yet expressed.

Thinking about three important words in that poem: serenity, courage, and wisdom. It's not an easy thing to be serene when things are going awry all around you. It's much easier to feel confusion and become suspicious of everyone. That is anything but serenity. I have fought to find some serenity during this past week, and I have been moderately successful. It's taken a fair amount of work and the passage of time.

Courage. Today I will go back to Lake Padden to celebrate the new year with my walking friends. It's not an easy thing to make myself go back to the scene of the crime, but if I don't take my courage in my hands and live my life in the way I desire, I will be even more of a victim. The impact of this theft has been huge on my psyche, and I wonder how I would recover these days from an even larger tragedy. I'm nowhere near as resilient as I was a decade ago when my son Chris died. And back then I suffered terribly for a long time, but I did eventually learn to smile and laugh again.

Wisdom. Ah, that word. The dictionary tells me it means "the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment." You cannot be a wise person without going through a fair bit of life's roller coaster of highs and lows. I do realize that being almost seventy has given me a fair bit of wisdom, and my desire to be a good person has caused me to think and rethink my actions. I wish for myself and for all of you, my blogging family, wisdom. I am learning to know the difference between what I can and cannot change, and I will gather my courage and do what I can in this new year.

There is a fourth important word in that poem: change. It's a constant thing in our lives, sometimes small and imperceptible, other times a momentous event that keeps us from continuing on in the same trajectory. But one thing I know: nothing and nobody escapes change. We can sometimes choose the direction of change, sometimes we can't. But change can be positive as well as negative.

Blessings to you at this time, and may the coming year bring us all joy and prosperity. It's a big wish, but I think we can do it if we try...


Gigi said...

I love your Sunday morning musings - they always make me think. I hope this year brings you nothing but joy, DJan.

Blue Ridge Mountains said...

Thank you Djan for this particular blog. It helped me sort out a lot of negative thoughts I have today.
How did you get so wise?

Linda Myers said...

That prayer asks that we be granted serenity, courage and wisdom, from whatever higher source we may follow. I think it's in the New Testament that it's said, "The kingdom of God is within us."

I heard another new something this week. "The pain is in the resistance." For me that means letting go when I can.

You're a wise woman, DJan. I'm especially appreciative of this morning's post.

Sandi said...

This was a particularly powerful post for me this morning, on so many levels. I'm glad I quickly checked blogs and read it before I went off to do my exercises!

As I read, I thought about first dreams, as I had a very unusual one last night as well, and one person I dreamed about actually had their picture in the paper this morning! That was so strange! There's some kind of connection there . . .

Next, you had me thinking about the aging process, in particular regarding the Serenity Prayer. We just aren't born with those traits we desire: serenity, courage, wisdom. We gain bits of these as we make our way through this process we call living.

I have been grateful for you, DJan, as I've read your stories, and the process you take to gain (or regain) a sense of serenity in the midst of conditions outside your control or comfort zone. You are an inspiration to me, and I wish you sweet success in all you wish to achieve in 2012.

PS ~ thanks for your comments this morning! Jess almost forgot to take her quilt when she left on Friday!

Teri said...

I love your thoughts on the Serenity Prayer. This Prayer has been a constant in my life since I was a teenager. Happy New Year, may you have a peaceful year. Sidenote: I always carry a small wallet on me, I always look for clothes with pockets or sew pockets inside my sweatshirt and jackets, I use a diaper pin to secure my pocket shut. I diaper pin my keys to the waistband of my pants.

Anonymous said...

Why, oh, why do people do such unspeakably evil things to each other? Thefts, robberies and burglaries are one thing, but what about sadism, rape and murder? Can't bear to dwell on this topic, sorry!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR, DJAN!!!

Jackie said...

My husband and I and friends of ours flew to California several years ago on vacation....rented a car and parked it at Fisherman's Wharf. Our friend left a canvas bag in the back seat of the rental car (with her and her husband's airline tickets in it)...and theives broke the side window of the car and took her bag. That was withing the first 30 minutes of being on vacation. What a nightmare. I am so sorry to hear about your car invasion. I get angry each time I hear or read of something like that. As I read your post today, I am aware that you have much wisdom. I pray for peace, courage, and wisdom for all of us. Happy New Year to you....

Bragger said...

I JUST got to read your post about the Christmas Eve theft. You are much more charitable about the thieves than I would be in similar circumstances. I know that feeling of violation, having had a house broken into, but I am very glad you were not injured personally. Happy New Year!

Rita said...

I love that when you skydive you are falling and flying at the same time. :)

Interesting that in your dream you were safer than you used to be and had things returned to you by a stranger. Those were both positives in the midst of the negatives.

Something I've found as I get older--I think I take a little longer to adapt to change, but no matter what happens I've been through so much that I know I'll survive and things will be okay in the long run. A lot of things I thought were so important...aren't. I love the serenity prayer.

It took courage to go back to the scene of the crime. I am picturing you like Rocky at the top of the steps!! Can you hear the music?

Very best to you this coming year, my friend. Bless you!! :):)

Red said...

What a great Sunday morning sermon! And I didn't have to go to church! How awesome blogging is. People are able to give thoughtful support to other bloggers.
Thank you.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

What an interesting dream! I love what I got from it. Although some things can be taken, the most important things won't be.

I love the way you write!

Rubye Jack said...

This prayer has been my crutch for many years now. It is always there and it always helps me. It says so very much.

I admire your strength DJan in moving past the blame stage. I think that when we hate the criminal we only hurt ourselves. I wish more people would think past the blaming.

May you have a happy and blessed new year!

Retired English Teacher said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Serenity Prayer today. I have been think about this prayer a lot in the past week. I have gone over those words in my head a great deal. It was great to read your perspective on what you have learned from the key words that you pointed out to us.

There is much which I can't change in my life right now. Oh, I want to take charge and change some things, but I am finally learning that I can't change much of what happens around me or within my family.

A wise counselor told me last week to not get in between the person that I wish I could sometime change and the wall or I will end up being flattened. Of course she is right. Each person can only be responsible for their own choices.

Arkansas Patti said...

Wonderful post and I am so happy that you seem to be recovering from the theft.
That prayer has been a constant in my life as I always search for the wisdom to know the difference.

Keicha said...

Thanks for writing this and for focusing on those three words. Finding serenity in the face of change is hard, isn't it? I guess that's where wisdom comes in. I certainly appreciate all the wisdom you share through your blog.

Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts.

CiCi said...

Regarding change, I am learning that what seems like a horrible change can still turn out to be a good thing. An attitude of acceptance does help and it keeps the peace within that it takes to be able to receive the blessings that are so abundant. I like reading your thoughts like this and it gives me something to think about.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

The serenity prayer holds great insights for all of us, I think. For me, the hardest part has always been "the wisdom to know the difference." But it does seem to get easier with age.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You sound calmer and stronger and more sure of yourself. The only way through is forward..with courage..you jump out of perfectly good airplanes don't you? Wisdom..well I think you are more intelligent than most..and strength..you can swim laps in the pool and hike mountains ..not everyone can do what you do.
Happy New Year! :)

CrazyCris said...

That prayer is an inspiring one... I think wisdom is what is most needed to see the others through. And from what I've read on your blogs I would definitely call you a wise woman!

I hope you had a nice walk, without incidents, and that it help you put last week's madness even further behind you.


Anonymous said...

The serenity prayer got me through a really hard year. It helped to know there were somethings I couldn't change because I'm Ms. FixIt. Thanks for the wisdom reminder.

Anonymous said...

The serenity prayer got me through a really hard year. It helped to know there were somethings I couldn't change because I'm Ms. FixIt. Thanks for the wisdom reminder.

Trish said...

Your Sunday posts are always beautiful. It sounds as if you're healing. Interesting dream, Djan.

BragonDorn said...

The cries of gratitude are the best cries a man can have.

Dee Ready said...

Dear DJan,
I've just read your last three postings on this blog and your Christmas posting on your other blog. For some reason I didn't know about that second one and now I've bookmarked it so that I will be able to follow both.

My heart aches for you in this time of violence done to your beliefs in the deep down goodness of all people. I find myself in much admiration that you can look at all this and say, maybe these people needed help. You wanted to help others and so you ended up doing so, unwittingly. That attitude, I think, is the epitome of the serenity prayer.

I am so glad. So relieved, that you have resolved that while they could take from you these things we use daily, they cannot take from you the definition you choose for yourself.

May this new year be filled with possibilities for growth in the human spirit.

Finally, DJan, I want to thank you for returning again and again to my blog and leaving comments. I've been away, and now I hope to be back in the blogging world where I daily read stories of what being fully human means.

Thank you.

Friko said...

I'm late here but nonetheless very appreciative of what you've written. I like the poem and your little meditation on the important words shows that you are back on track.

Many good wishes for the new year.

Nancy said...

Just caught up with all of the posts over the last week or so. Blessings and I hope 2012 is a better year than the end of 2011.