A New Year to Believe

    I still believe in love.

    That’s a song. A lyric.

    And a philosophy.

    For love.

    But also for life.

    My daughter’s at the perfect age to be smack on the center car of the roller coaster ride of her own revolving love story. As a spectator, it’s not a whole lot of fun to watch.  I imagine it’s a bit jolting for the rider, as well. I liken it to that rickety wooden coaster at New Hampshire’s Canobie Lake Park –not so much dramatically scary as it is just really bumpy. Okay, at times plummeting. But then, the view from the top of the tracks can be pretty amazing. And as she would to the ride itself, in spite of its careening depths, she keeps climbing on board.

    She came into this world with an indomitable resilience which I could never have taught her. But she’s needed that spirit. Before she was a half-day old, she was desperately ill. It may have been the meds in which she was almost immediately infused, or the expertise of the professionals at one of Boston’s best hospitals. It may just have been the general advances of medical science that saved her life from the same ailment that killed her great grandmother’s son.

    I don’t know about all that.

    I think it was her resilience.

    My students are her age. And most of them are girls. Because of my unique relationship with them, they share much that has nothing to do with what we’re studying. That’s okay. I’ve accepted my role in their education. It’s not always about grammar and parenthetical phrases. In fact, it rarely is. Apparently, I may have other stuff to teach them.

    But when they talk to me about their love lives, I sometimes feel like that what I have to offer may not be fully relevant to their 21st century interactions. But I could be wrong here.

    One of my students considers herself a cynic when it comes to love. So I agree with her that boys are stupid or shallow or whatever the negativity of the day is. And then I find myself quietly cheering on her would-be suitors. Not because I know them or like them or necessarily believe that they’re a right match for her. More because I want her to believe. In them, in herself with them, in it –in something. I want her to believe in love. Again. Or maybe for the first time. I want her to shed that cloak of cynicism she wears so proudly. I want her to step to the vortex of life and get fully sucked in by the tidal wave of emotions that comes with love.

    I want her to start over –each time, as if for the first time.

    Happy New Year.

    Every culture has its version of what it is to renew. In New York and Boston, we drink too much, make a lot of noise, watch a crystal ball slowly descend. Some of us make resolutions. Most of us lose them before spring pushes off the area snows.  

    I think we’re missing something.

    In Greek Orthodoxy, the New Year coincides with the season of sowing, on September 1st. I don’t know about that. A harvest doesn’t sound like a beginning.

    Countries with large Hindu populations celebrate the New Year with their spring’s planting. That makes a bit more sense. Perennials pushing up to the sun. A silent seed taking root, starting as a tiny kernel of life.

    In preparation of their spring celebration, the Bengalese clean. So do the Chinese, before their winter parades. My mom would like that. Remove the clutter, start clean and fresh. And scores of cultures have symbols of luck closely tied to their New Year’s celebrations. A food or a flower, a color or a coin, a custom. Something to ward off the evil spirits, welcome the good.

    The Jewish New Year has a bit more depth. Yom Kippur doesn’t coincide with our Gregorian calendar. It doesn’t even fall on the first day of their first month. Instead, on the 10th day of the month of Tisrei, Jews the world over seek a spiritual renewal. They look to the past, acknowledge their shortcomings, search for atonement.

    I like this idea. It speaks to a bigger picture. It’s about redemption and potential –like that seed. It’s more than a few penciled resolutions on a page. It’s about an acceptance of missteps and a willingness to change. I especially like the notion of not merely looking to a Creator for forgiveness. Even Jews who don’t count themselves as particularly religious can take the Yom Kippur opportunity to seek out people whom they may have wronged in the course of the year and solicit their individual forgiveness. Cool concept.

    I believe in the New Year. I believe in the inherent possibilities of it. 

    I believe that my student will fall in love, that my daughter’s ride will be worth it.

    And I don’t really believe that kids suck. Although I do believe that sometimes our job as parents does. It’s difficult and frustrating and most of us don’t have any of the answers that seem to come so easily when we use an outside-looking-in view of others. Perhaps the job is so particularly daunting to those of us who do believe. Who believe it makes a difference; that we make a difference. Who believe that these kids of ours really are the future.

    So I also believe in my son. I believe in that little boy with the big imagination who didn’t quite buy the notion that teleporting wasn’t an actuality. But did believe me when I told him he could be anything he wanted to be.

    He doesn’t believe much of what I say these days. But I still do. I still believe that the seed of who he is, albeit buried, is in there. It just needs a bit of light to guide it from the darkness.

I believe that the good of him has taken root and that on the other side of the little boy, he will become the man who he is meant to be.

    I more than believe; I know.

    Because I still believe in love.

4 thoughts on “A New Year to Believe

  1. One of my resolutions this year is to reply to your posts by commenting here, rather than by email. (I heard your last admonishment!)
    Thanks Linda for such a beautifully written piece. Though your wishes for the young women in your life touched me and had me cheering them on, it’s your belief in the kernels you’ve laid in your son that really got me. It can be hard to believe that sometimes, but we need to trust in ourselves and the work we’ve done, and have faith. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. I love this entry because I am familiar with that rollercoaster- the real one at Canobie and the figurative one of romance. In a recent design contest, I won a beautiful, designer charm from Ylang 23 which arrived just before New Year’s Eve and its message says it all: the charm is round with vines of hearts around it, the back reads “I will never stop loving you” and the box has a card that says, ‘Note to Self- love yourself this way unconditionally and all love will follow’.

  3. Wow, I love that I made it to your resolutions. And I’ll take all the reminders I can that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It can be exceedingly dim at times. Something about boys….Aaargh!

  4. And of course that is the point isn’t it? Particularly with girls, I think, if they can’t believe at their core that they need to love themselves first, then they tend to be suspect of those who offer the words to them too quickly. Here’s to your own ride on the roller coaster -I hope 2011 is a little less bumpy for you.

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