Every day is special – my wish for you

Yesterday, was New Year’s Eve in the Gregorian calendar, and as we set off for our journey to a beatific little Italian village, I cast my mind to the question of why the turning of the year, in whatever tradition, holds such significance and special symbolism for us.

There is an undoubted focus on the celebration of making it through another cycle of time, there are the rituals that ward off bad fortune, and there is also the custom of setting resolutions such as treating people better, paying off debts, and looking after ourselves so that we could look after others. This has been so throughout history. The Babylonians would return borrowed objects, Jews seek, and offer, forgiveness, and the Greeks hang onion on their doors as symbol of rebirth for the people in the household.

As we drove through the valley to our destination, I considered the importance of resolutions, given that most of us who make them don’t follow through with them. Ultimately, I mused, making resolutions that extend out to others and how we are with others is about building a society where we can rely on our communities for our health and survival. Resolutions are about about seeking connection and, ultimately, about a commitment to change habits. However, they fail. This can be for a number of reasons. The resolutions may not be genuine. They may be forced by the immediacy of the event. they may suffer a lack of contemplation, and they may be vague and inconsiderate of specific action steps.

Our brains are constantly bombarded by stimuli, and in the cases where our resolutions are not specific, this results in a cognitive load that we simply cannot manage and we fall back into, and continue, our old ways.

Resolutions, then, are best made when we recognise fully that we are ready to make a change and that we are ready to do what we must to follow through. Yesterday, was yet another step in one resolution I had made: for us to go and be in, and to learn to appreciate the beauty of the outside world that exists.

The son of one of our colleagues is visiting from the United States at the moment and he likes, as I do, to rock climb. We had spoken about going out together previously and, yesterday, our plans and weather aligned. Seven of us, our family, our colleague and his son, and my elderly climbing partner headed off to a wonderful little area an hour away in Italy.

Maccagno is quite a special spot, even if the climbing isn’t easy. One fun thing about it is that the climbs are all named after musicians or musical pieces. My favourite climb there is Cavalcata Delle Valchirie (Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries) though some of the other names have tempted me to to try, in vain, to scale them.

The rock faces sit directly above Lake Maggiore and are oriented south, opening themselves to the handful of hours of a welcome winter sun. The old, now closed, road that cuts through the crags is a pathway for cyclists, walkers and runners, and is enriched by a welcoming, little store that offers simple food and lovely beverages, and where people may sit and enjoy companionship, rest, laughter and contemplation. Above the road, the climbs reach into the otherwise inaccessible forest and, below, waiting for the warmer months to arrive, lie the routes that end in the waiting waters of the lake, should one wish to go there.

We didn’t climb hard, this was not our intent yesterday. We were there to enjoy what we could: to sense the warmth of the sun, to feel the cool breeze, to engage in balance and motion, to hear laughter, and to be with each other.

There were many wonderful moments. The children succeeded in climbing routes at the edge of their ability, we laughed as we fell and lay, scarred, dangling on ropes on ascents that were just a little too hard, our colleague climbed for the first time in many, many years, and we talked with strangers (it doesn’t cease to amaze me at how many can speak English) who were there to live in the day.

As the sun began to settle and the sky changed colour, we made our way to Bernardo’s little stone store, greeted his pet wolf, and we sat ourselves ourselves around of the weather beaten red plastic tables to close the afternoon with a sharing of a beer for the adults and a soda for the children.

In a moment of reflection, I thought back to earlier in the afternoon when I recognised that the first of my friends and family scattered around the globe were celebrating the passing of this year. I asked myself how they, and those I knew who were far away, might have lived, and be living their New Year’s Eve, and what they might hope for as the calendar turned. I thought about how this day, despite being symbolic, was essentially another cycle of the earth’s endless rotation, another day to embrace and experience. I thought of how fortunate I was to be where I was and with who I was, and of what it took to be there, and I was grateful, both for the day and for making a resolution that I could work for.

For all my friends and family, and all the others in the world, I wished, and hoped, that they were able to live every day in the contentment and purity that I had.

May your wishes be yours.

Maccagno – Italy, December 31, 2021

Published by Athan Rodostianos

Educator, world traveller, dreamer. The world is there and open. Live it, love it, breathe it share your experiences, be kind, be good.

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