Happy New Year! I have news to share but it will have to wait, because waiting for me in my Inbox this morning was an Op Ed piece from my friend Gumball. It was beautifully written, and sure to bring a tear to your eye. I'm honored that he is my first guest writer for this blog, and it's wonderful that he has such a poignant message to share.
"What did you get for Christmas?"
That is often the question on the lips of old and young alike this time of year. Still, even as a transient man who has lived this way for the majority of my adult life, I am often asked this question by my non-transient friends and acquaintences.
What did I get this year? What did I receive? What did I treat myself with?
This year I treated myself to fresh air, the cool breeze on a hot July morning or a warm, crackling fire on a cold December night. This year I treated myself to seeing the west, exploring and enjoying the beautiful and ancient rustic spirit of this nation. This year I opened myself up to new tastes, new smells, new friends, new hopes and dreams and life and liberty. I treated myself to good clean air in my lungs, to breathtaking beauty and scenery. I treated myself to wake up in a different location every morning. I treated myself to never feeling trapped, asphyxiated within a box.
Some people look at me and my brethren and feel sorry for us. They think we are lacking because of our lack of a Christmas tree, or the ringing of Christmas bells, or special food or drink or time spent with blood relatives. Most of all, they seem to think I'm missing something because I do not afford myself Christmas presents.
Maybe I won't enjoy a bounty of Christmas presents, but instead I hold close to my heart something much more valuable...Christmas presence. A presence not in simply existing, but in living within the moment. Taking it all in. The world is a big, scary, tragic and hauntingly beautiful place. You can't see it from behind closed doors. You have to live it, be a part of it, not apart from it.
I have seen some things in my time, some things I wish I could un-see and other things I'd give my life to experience a second time. You take the good with the bad, the horrid with the lovely. This world has a knack for simultaneously breaking your heart and filling it with childlike wonder all at once.
It's hard to break away, and this path is not for everyone. Some are better off behind their closed, locked doors, away from the rest of the world. Let them have their cubicles, their mortgage, their auto repairs, their health insurance. Let them have their Christmas presents. For the select few of us--the ones who choose not to remove ourselves from what this world has to offer--we strive for something much more symbiotic with nature. A Christmas presence.
Keep the flame, my brothers.