Dawn broke in Houston in the usual way, cooler temperatures this time of year with the glint of frost on the rooftops, but what was unusual was the utter quiet in my house this year on Christmas. As the New Year stalks me with the insistence of a domineering uncle, I pause to take stock, slow down, imagine, and feel. I am alone this holiday, but for the rumble tumble of two dogs and one cat whining. I am alone only not lonely. This is the first year my children are not home; I am no longer married, and contrary to the marketing campaigns of the best agencies have to offer, I believe that many people in our wonderful city are doing just what I am doing, sipping coffee, taking stock, remembering love, and planning change and doing all of this soulful work, on their own, by themselves, as individual as the day they are born, and again as they die.
Being alone has the potential to render a person a pariah socially, has the capacity to create such a vacuum in the heart that the lonely are driven to fill up this chasm in whatever way is handiest, drinking, shopping, drinking some more, sleeping, movie watching, various on-line activities, Extreme Cleaning, emailing, or just circling the house vainly, struggling to find some noise, distraction, and business. Anything to deflect the mind and heart away from the cold realization that one is no longer part of the whole, rather adrift like the smallest ice chunk in a large pushy flow.
I choose to deflect this unsettling feeling by acknowledging my feelings, honoring them, and remembering that my life is whole, and my feelings can be directed in any way I choose to send them, and so I write. I write to open the heart, to allow what is there to show up, to shine and have that moment of clarity. Although the aforementioned activities have their place and can for a moment prevent one from becoming maudlin, writing is far less reckless and more revealing. This I believe, I believe that people forget what they believe as they move hurtling through life at speeds no human psyche was truly made for, that as soulful beings we are sometimes forced by circumstance to pause and reflect, feel pain perhaps, and then perhaps joy.
I imagine the Houstonians out there maybe still sleeping off last night’s distractions, those who are loathe to wake to a quiet place on Christmas, those who do not have their children this side of the holiday and are unused to it, perhaps those who do not have a warm kitchen and computer on which to muse. I believe in the replenishment of humanity of such a morning as this, I believe that all people are in need of reflective moments, sometimes the quiet is much louder than the stores and the parties, and the lonliness is somehow changed into a moment of stunning beauty, that although I am not engaged in anything more than feeling, thinking, and writing, I am shedding a few tears for the knowledge that I have yet another year on the horizon, chances to live, and laugh, and be thankful, to do good in our city, to feel the pathos and move past it, to shore up strength and remember small kindnesses, to revel in my oneness and individuality, to believe in a cause larger than myself, to sip the warm coffee and send out love to all my fellow individuals on this morning in Houston, who may be alone, but who are not, they have only to pause, and believe in themselves.
Valerie Wainright, age 43
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