“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
The new year is almost here. I’m ready for a change, to go with the new calendar on the wall. Soon, there will be a new month, a new year, and the rest of winter. But, I’ve been adrift, not quite able to put words to this feeling, this restlessness for looking at life in a new way, with new words.
A new friend and I meet, sipping coffee milkshakes, as he tells me of his life and his hopes for the future. He is full of optimism, and hope for a new beginning. His life is changing, much for the better, as he distances himself from chaos and anger, to curiosity and new vocabulary.
He thinks I’m wise, and I can teach him much. Truth be known, he is my teacher, my spiritual guru today. Like him, I need to free myself from old patterns, old demons, and look ahead. I need a new vocabulary, and fresh eyes to see the world unfolding before me.
“I want to explore so much,” my friend says.
I could easily define him as a failure, a cast off, for something he did several years ago. His family has rejected him, and society has sent him to prison.
He’s a prisoner, I thought, but really, he’s free now. He’s been released, and can now truly live his life. One person’s idea of prison is another’s university of life.
A paradox. Yet, he feels free now, for the first time, to be who he wants to be, to stretch himself and move ahead in his life.
For the first time, he is with people his own age, making friends, going to school, and learning to write. He’s waking up every morning in a place where he is not beaten, screamed at, or kept away from the world. He’s escaped from the darkness of his family’s chamber of horrors, and has come into the light, joining the world as a real person.
He searches for words to express himself, and the words for his waves of emotion, all new to him. This coming year is a new beginning for him, a gift to be opened and cherished, with words and emotions he has never known before.
We discover we are both gardeners, in every nuance of the word. Like me, he’s browsing the seed catalogs, and placing his order, dreaming of the coming springtime, where one plants and brings forth new life. He yearns to nurture the garden of his own soul.
“Who am I?” he asks.
“Anything you want to be,” I reply. “You can choose now. The world is yours to explore.”
And, not just for him, I realize. It is my choice, too. I, too, am in this world, and I also can make those choices and have those opportunities. We are both gardeners and poets, thinking of spring.
And we are both prisoners, of our thoughts, our old perceptions of the world and how we fit into the mold of what others expect of us, how they think we should act and think.
Like my buddy, I too can be free, and move on towards the coming newness and freedom of the new year, and be who I really want to be.