27 December 2009

As This Year Passes; What Has Passed Before This Year

Tonight, after going to Millie's for a cup of tea, I talked with Marilynne's daughter, who underwent her surgery during the time I was in Trinidad. I will never forget how helpful Marilynne was to me, even though she had to do so much for her daughter!

Anyway, Marilynne's daughter and I marveled that in about two weeks, six months will have passed since our surgeries. Because she is much younger than I am, it is a more significant portion of her life than it is of mine. Still, I am struck by what similar perceptions we have of the passage of that time.

"It's gone by so quickly," she said. "But in a way, it seems like such a long time."

"I feel the same way."

"Really? I wonder why that is."

"Well," I said, "I can tell you what I think, or at least what's true for me. Yes, the time has gone by quickly. But the time before that seems like a lifetime ago, so that's why it seems as if so much time has passed since our surgeries. At least, that's what I've experienced."

Yes! That's how it's been. I feel the way you do: that last year was a lifetime ago. And I can't compare those times to now."

I was reminded of one of Staci Lana's posts in which she said that 2009 has been her favorite year so far. I could say the same thing, but that wouldn't be quite accurate. Yes, I finally got something I'd wanted for as long as I can remember, and, as a result, felt whole for the first time in my life. In that sense, yes, this year is definitely the best of my life, so far.

But in another sense, it's not quite accurate to say that: I simply can't compare this year to any other. I think I've achieved a few smaller personal milestones and derived satisfaction from any number of moments spent with friends and working with my passions. So, all of those things, combined with having my surgery, have made this a year that has brought me more happiness than any other I can remember. But, as a result, I cannot look at any other part of my life in quite the same way.

That's not to say that I didn't have good moments or even good years before this one. But to compare this year to any previous time would be like a poet judging the work he or she did in his youth in light of what he or she is writing now. Yes, the newer work may be superior. But it's as if a different poet, which is to say a different person, is writing the new works.

In one sense, Marilynne's daughter is lucky, for she--barring some unforeseeable tragedy-- has most of her life ahead of her. I, on the other hand, have lived the greater part of my life as the "before" photo--unless, of course, I'm going to live an exceptionally long life.

Whatever our lifespans, she and I are beginning with this year.