Winter in California brings a strange, cool sunshine to the days, frail as moonlight, illuminating as candle flame. I watch it from the windows, working my laptop keys in my parents' home as darkness turns back to darkness. While my parents venture out for work and coffee dates and fly fishing practice, I stay in. I design product. I read books. My mom and I watch Gilmore Girls. We all have dinner together. I think about what has gone by, and I rest. This year was our first Christmas without my grandfather. My brother and his wife have a new baby on the way, and at two and a half my niece Zoe is already learning to read.
Hanging on my wall here is a framed Carol Grigg poster that I picked up at a yard sale many years ago. In it, a blanketed woman sits on a misshapen horse. The horse's back foot is raised expectantly, wearily; there is the shape of a bundle on her back. The faintest edge of jet black hair peeks out from her wrapping, the horse carries a spot of black on his breast. The two are the colors of this California winter - steel, mauve, ochre, soot. Her face is not visible, but she looks forward, toward the empty left side of the canvas.
In the challenges of the past year, I have felt too wrung out to enjoy the things I came to New York to do. It has been six months since I visited a New York art museum, years since I bought myself a ticket to the opera, years since I spent hours in The Strand. I lost my ties to the conservation community, and I forgot the part of dancing that I love the most. I have also come into some of the most rich relationships of my adult life, some older and evolved, some new and full of promise. It is these people who have reminded me of how I want to grow in 2017.
In the coming year, I want to cherish everything about the beautiful, incomparable city that first lit me up during that fated spring so many years ago. I came to New York, as E.B. White wrote, seeking "the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something...the city of final destination, the city that is a goal." I forgot why I was in the city; I forgot what I came for.
This is my resolution: to fall asleep every night exhausted, not from stress or from illness or depression, but because I hungered for knowledge and experience and connections to the people I care about, because of staying up late just to talk, getting up early on weekends to find the latest art exhibit, exploring the places I haven't yet been, studying dance, helping my team do the work they love. To be satisfied that I used my days well.
Last year I swore to live in service of others; I found that humility, compassion and thoughtfulness were the only things that brought sanity and heart to those around me in times of great stress. I still have a long way to go, patience to cultivate, kindnesses to return. This year, in the space left by loss, I will build something new, and step forward once more in my quest to shape this world for the better.