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, December 30, 2018

Putting the year to bed

Sisters Thanksgiving 2011
I've been sitting here in my bed with the laptop, trying to figure out what I could write about on the last Sunday of the year. It's been a struggle. First, I figured I'd go back and read my Sunday posts to get an idea of how the year played out. It was really hard, because I realized that so many of my posts deal with much the same issues time after time: growing old, loss, aches and pains—you get the picture. Then I thought I might write about books that have inspired me this year, but found it difficult to remember the names of them.

So I went into my pictures and began to look for something appropriate to head up this final post of 2018 and found myself mired in memories of times past. Good and bad times, but mostly the incredible number of family and friends who have left us over the years. Even that wonderful picture (above) of my sisters and me reminds me that it's been five years since PJ died. She's standing next to me in front.

I am feeling all adrift this morning. I wasted a whole hour looking at old pictures, and then getting distracted by every little thing. So now I'm just going to buckle down and get this post written, no matter what course it takes. It's time. Past time, really.

Yesterday I watched the PBS show about Apollo 8, which was fascinating. I used the PBS app on my iPad to watch it, happy that I can use it if I miss a favorite program on TV. It was such an eye opener to go back fifty years in time to those heady days when we traveled to the moon and back. I remember exactly where I was when I watched the moon landing, but it seems that Apollo 8 was just as important a mission, which happened the year before. All three of the astronauts who were there are still alive and interviewed on the show. I would not have recognized any one of them, they are so different now. James Lovell and Frank Borman are both 90 years old, and Bill Anders a mere 85, so it's no wonder they look so changed. Age does that to you.

It was fascinating to hear them tell the story of what it was like to be the first humans ever to see the back side of the moon, and to see that magnificent view of Earthrise, our beautiful planet coming up over the horizon of another world. I feel really humbled to realize what an amazing time in the history of the world I've been privileged to live through. I learned from that program that the necessity of creating a computer small enough to go in the module was one reason that today we have these tiny little computers that go into our pockets (our phones). But back then, they had to create a miniscule computer that weighed 17 pounds and was capable of guiding the Command Module to the moon and back.

It also reminds me, thinking of Apollo 8, of how far humanity has come in that half century, but we have never been back to the moon since. I wonder if that will change soon. Probably not, since our world seems to be falling into turmoil everywhere, and that doesn't leave a lot of energy and resources for things like space exploration. Our worldwide interconnectivity is both good and bad, it seems. When something awful happens on the other side of the world, I know about it immediately. That's not always a good thing for one's emotional equilibrium.

Read the article to get the whole story, or find a way to watch that great show. It has been on my mind since I watched it yesterday, thinking of breaking the bonds of earth and still being able to come back to see everything with new eyes.

I have the ability to go to my local library website and look up the names of books I've previously checked out. While wracking my brain trying to remember authors and titles I wanted to share with you, all along there was that website that allows me to see previous books I've checked out. I went and looked and found that during 2018, I checked out more than sixty books. Some of them I perused and didn't read; some I didn't finish, but many of them I did. I also put a dozen or so onto my Kindle. I guess you might say I'm quite the reader, but frankly it runs in the family. We are all avid readers.

The book I wanted to share with you earlier is by Kristin Hannah, The Great Alone. It's not often that a book will stay with me as long as that one has. I was very reluctant to finish the book and re-read the ending a couple of times before sending it back to the library. I think it's my favorite book of the year. I don't think I'm alone in this. If you can get your hands on the book and read it, let me know what you think.

Okay. The post has done its magic for me: I am now feeling better about life and looking forward to yet another year to share my Sundays with you. And there is a coffee cup with my name on it at my favorite place, with my dear friends John and Gene to laugh and share with, if I can get myself out of this bed and ready for a new day, the penultimate one in the year. Partner is still asleep (natch) and my tea is long gone. Time for a new beginning!

 I hope that the coming days and weeks will bring you lots of laughter and love, too. That is what I wish for myself as well. Until we meet again, dear readers, be well.


Anonymous said...

Another book for my list of READ!

Anonymous said...

That anonymous comment was Trish - anonymous works, gmail doesn't !

The Furry Gnome said...

Have a great New Year; hope the entire year gives you peace.

Tabor said...

Be well into the new year. New things are always full of promise. Now you can look forward in the days ahead

Linda Reeder said...

The sky has cleared. The sun is shining through the window! It feels like a blessing. I'll manage to get outside a bit this morning, which will make this a good day. I'll overcome some physical obstacles and "Just Do It".
We are both now launched into the day, and soon, a new year. Thanks.
Be happy. Be well.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you for the heads up on a book which sounds right up my very broad alley.
And a delightful day and very, very happy and healthy new year to you dear DJan.

Gigi said...

That book sounds amazing - I'm adding it to my Must Read List.

Happy New Year, DJan!

Galen Pearl said...

Hmm, that is an intriguing book title -- I will have to take a look.

Thanks for your weekly reflections which carried all of us through the year with you. One thing I so appreciate about your posts is their honesty. That take courage and humility, a combination that you model for us every week.

I'm looking forward to another year with you!

William Kendall said...

It's been at least a couple of years since I've seen it, but In The Shadow Of The Moon covers the Apollo missions, with commentary from the astronauts. I know Jim Lovell is in it, and likely his Apollo 8 crewmates as well.

Red said...

You gave yourself a very difficult topic, however you did justice to it. It's difficult to know where we fit in in all the changes that go on. Have a great 2019

Arkansas Patti said...

I too saw the aging astronauts. Was shocked at their change for it didn't seem that long ago we were amazed by their ventures. My mirror gives me that same shock.
I just checked my e-library and I am now #2 on the hold list. Thanks.
May 2019 bring us a lot less stress and a lot more hope. Be happy, healthy with more laughs than frowns this coming year.

Rita said...

If you loved the book so much I went right over and ordered the audio book to listen to while I (hopefully) do more in the studio this year. ;)

Hard to believe the year is over already. Great pics of you and your sisters.

I will also look for the PBS special on Apollo 8. I do love PBS!

Happy New Year!! :)

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, After reading this post I just sat here smiling for a while. You have such a wonderful way of starting with a bit of uncertainty what to write about. And then it evolves into something excellent like your description of Apollo 8 and then telling us about your favorite book for the year. I thoroughly enjoyed this post ... as always! :-) My next stop is the Kindle Store for The Great Alone! Wishing you and SG a very happy New Year! Take good care my friend! John

Anonymous said...

Happy 2019! - Trish

C-ingspots said...

Yes! My hope is for a fresh, new year filled with good health, adventures, time spent in nature, and joy, peace and contentment. And along with that, may there come an abundance of dear friend and family times spent. Happy New Year to you, Dear DJan!