The Year the Light Came Early

The light spilled through the slits in the rolled-down shades. As my eyelids flipped back to greet the new day, I sensed something was different. The tunnel of dust that pillared from the sunbeam arching downward to meet the wooden floor told me the world had changed. I strained to listen for its revised instructions. Amidst the subtle sounds of my awakening spirit, it was clear my role had been altered too.

Indeed, it had.

The calendar had flipped. The last two numbers had changed dramatically. As I shuffled to pour my first coffee of the New Year, I wondered if we had to experience a seismic shift too.

Used with permission by Julie Beck/Unsplash

I sniffed the morning air and heard an echoed lurch from the year that had just passed. It sounded like an unoiled crane, oscillating numbly between hovels in the earth or similar to the peals of laughter from an unknown joke lost forever in the halls of our memory. Another pause, a suck of breath and a tenuous step of feet placed gently toward the fridge. A nimble drawing of the door towards body and limb resulted in a flood of ingenuous brilliance. A new day had come. A new era of sorts. A new beginning for sure.

My life partner wisely said the last decade was enshrouded in darkness. There is something about the 20s that brings light and vibrancy and a semblance of renewal.

Most every year since I can remember dancing on this planet, I have waited for that moment of light to plunk its shine on my head once the holidays have passed. This year I did not expect it to come so soon. In fact, I had not expected it for another thirty days. Mid-February, I reasoned, was an acceptable timeframe for such awakenings.

This year has been very different indeed.

During an informal poll of simply everyone I met, I learned that this was the weirdest holiday season on record. From persons of great optimism, enshrouded with boundless yes, to folks of a more ambiguous ilk, I learned that 2019 ended in a desperate gasp for many of the ones I love. It smelled different. It tasted bland. It smirked a disingenuous smile, nodding to the gingerliness that has infiltrated our lives. We have been immunized by a feckless, savage ambivalence. And yet our genetic ancestry, awakened on the morn of a new year, spoke staunchly in my kitchen as I stood, nearly naked, bathing in the pale virgin light.

A few days ago, as the clock’s long hand slapped the 12 on its dial, I stood on a friend’s penthouse balcony, trembling with relief.  As the final rockets illuminated the Freiburg sky, I watched the old year disappear in the mist of gunpowder smoke. The weirdest of holiday seasons had not only come to a close. The weirdest of decades had too.

And then, in a flash as simplistic as a stroke of the thumb, our sacred new era was crowned with interminable inanity and the circus continued on Twitter from golf courses and golden bathroom tiles. But those eyes that see the sunbeam taunting the possibility of dignity and grace, ushering down upon our floors, upon our spirits, upon our conscience, know that something is different indeed.

Australia burned. We prayed for rain. And a day later it came too.

The light that comes in February is here a month early. Call it climate change. Call it Leap Year. Call it what you will. But I believe, dear friend, that the origin of that light is you.

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