Sunday, January 4, 2009

Looking Back

For the last five years or so I go off on a snowshoe hike to celebrate my birthday. It's a time to ponder the past year and think about the year to come. I like to joke that the hike sets the tone for the coming year. As the snowshoeing goes, so goes life.

The photo above is the view behind me. I've gone beyond the established path and am now breaking trail in 18" of soft snow. It's hard, pleasant exertion. The sky is a vivid blue, the snow sugary and fine, and the exercise a welcome variation from the previous day's drinking and eating.

As I stomp through the fresh snow, it strikes me that my traditional New Year's Day (and birthday) snowshoe hike is a pretty appropriate metaphor. Behind me lies an already-broken trail and ahead of me a vast untrammeled sea of white. The year just past is history and, as a Dutchman I once knew liked to say, the year ahead a mystery.

I am glad 2008 is over. My wife finished a grueling 18 month treatment for breast cancer and it looks like we can enjoy many more snowy Decembers together, but it's been a rough road. We've both changed in the course of her treatment. She's transformed physically but still the same wonderful and gentle spirit that I've known since the age of 16. I'm no different on the outside, but I feel different to myself emotionally. The occasional temper tantrum aside, I feel that I'm more patient than before. If a stranger cuts me off in traffic or does something stupid I'm much more likely to wonder what is behind their behavior than to fume. Not always, but certainly more often.

Some people are born patient and others, like me, have patience thrust upon them. I hope to become increasingly even-tempered as the years progress. It's one of my life goals and so far I'm satisfied, if not happy, with my progress.


KM said...

where was that picture taken?

Lanny said...

The north shore of Lake Superior. Some friends have a cabin near Two Harbors with access to many trails.

Pete said...

Happy Birthday! Here's to 2009.