Tuesday, December 31, 2013

leaving 2013, part three (3 of 3)

one must certainly forgive me for having "hopes" for the new year; after all, this is the time of year when the whole world reflects upon the past, and then projects upon the future, learning from what has come before and anticipating a "better" new year.  one must certainly be forgiven for this, if only because the process so often fails in a spectacular manner.  and yet, come the end of december, i, along with countless others, launch once again into an annual inventory of "successes" and "failures"--the two distinguished only by the respective accompaniment of either pleasure or pain.  so please forgive me.

compassion, they say, begins with the self. i don't think it ends with the self, but i would have to agree that this is indeed a good place to start. at least that is what has worked for me, and what i generally tell my clients. when applied to myself, compassion allows me to put aside the whip, as it were, and recognize the innocent aim of my actions, despite the occasionally meandering results.  i used to be so fucking hard on myself, expecting that every decision would be the right one, not only for me, but for those whose opinions most mattered to me.  this is the bane of being recognized as a smart kid early on--adults then heap loads of unrequited dreams upon you and you take on the responsibility of not only your satisfaction, but theirs as well. what a burden! compassion, for my self, looks something like this:  i recognize how hard i have tried to please everyone in the world so that i will feel loved, and then i stop working so goddamn hard, and settle into the new idea that i don't need to prove a goddamned thing (pleasing someone can come from a place or caring rather than obligation).

new years used to be the perfect time for me to reset the clock, as it were. wipe the slate clean, start afresh, auld lang syne and all that, but that changed somewhat once i developed compassion for myself. once i started taking it easy regarding my choices, i found that i needed something else to set the 31st of december apart from all other days of the year. for many years i did not find that replacement--i just worked on the holiday, thereby designating it as a time to make lots of money rather than lots of resolutions.  but i don't work on new years anymore, and i don't beat myself up anymore, so what do i make of it now? well, it is fairly simple, and i really don't know why i didn't just click my ruby slippers together YEARS ago and arrive sooner at this conclusion, but you know how it goes concerning the expediency of life lessons, so here i am now at where i am now. where is that? well, simply put, i am in a space of gratitude.  

before going any further, let me specify that this gratitude is not to anyone outside of myself, but instead for something outside of myself. kind of. that something is life. LIFE. on the days leading up to the new year, what i feel is gratitude for the experience of life--gratitude that it is even possible to celebrate the closing of another year (instead of being plastered against the front of a car). gratitude for the experience of all the choices i have made this year--the ones that were pleasurable and the ones that were painful. gratitude that i am able to now reflect on those choices and narrow down my repertoire of options for living a meaningful and purposeful life.  gratitude that i got through 2013 in a very pleasant way, with big changes and insights, new friends and lovers, soft whispers and loud cries, subtle closings and powerful re-entries. gratitude for the flaws and the brilliance, the in-betweens and the borders, the blurs and the clarity, the sures and the not-so-sures.  i have gratitude for all of it, because this year i have gotten a grasp on how to really be there for all of it, instead of hiding out in the past or the future.

this perspective has influenced how i live in the city as well. my best friend recently shared with me that he felt i haven't take enough responsibility for my experience in the city of los angeles, and i have to agree with him a bit. it is easy to blame a city for one's loneliness or dissatisfaction, or blame a lover, or blame your family, etc. it is not so easy to look at one's role in experience--not from the point of blame (which is useless), but from the point of having the power to make a different choice.  since i decided that i am staying in los angeles, i was faced with making a different choice about my experience in this city. but i could not just create a fantasy view--i have been here too long and lived too much--i needed to differentiate between the aspects of the city that i have no power over and the aspects over which i can exert some control. this aspect is centered around my connection with people--getting the fuck out there and making an effort to be a friend and colleague who people like being around.  and i am happy to report that, boy, have i exerted control in this area this year! i ended last year year feeling somewhat alone, much as i had ended many years. but this year i do not feel alone in the slightest, and not just because i am spending it in palm springs with my best friend. even if i was doing nothing on new years i would not feel alone--my life now feels rich and meaningful due to a remarkable circle of friends and professional acquaintances who matter to me. i built this, it did not drop in my lap, and i am sure my best friend would say that i have taken more responsibility for my experience of late.

so i can end this year with this statement: i have not fallen in love with los angeles, but i have grown to love it. this has been by intention, but i have done the exact thing that i would have had to do in san francisco had i moved there. you see, the city, any city, is nothing without its people, and i populated my life this year with some of l.a.'s most interesting occupants. because i am feeling more loved, it is easier for me to love back. as i end 2013 in southern california, the area of the country where not only did i grow up, but where i have spent the bulk of my life, i can truly say that i feel fortunate to be here, and very glad that i did not move. i did not ditch the relationship--i worked at it and am better off for the effort. i feel like michael caine's character in "hannah and her sisters" when he realizes that he loves his wife far more than he previously suspected. besides, los angeles is a marvelous city at times, it really is. no more so than at night when the smog is hidden and the lights guide one's focus into crevices and shadows, the place where love dwells and waits. los angeles is a city best seen through its shadows--the sunlight is far too obvious and easy--the city holds its heart in its darkness, as do i. so i end with a celebration of l.a.'s shadows--what i love. l.a. and i are good this year. not every relationship is workable, but every good relationship takes work. i had a good relationship that i nearly threw away.

happy new years, lover.


  1. I always appreciate your insight and your uncanny ability to put things in a new perspective. I hope 2014 fills your life with extraordinary new adventures.
    LA Light is great!

    1. Thank you, Jon. I hope that your year is good as well, but it often sounds like you are doubtful that things will change! I rely on change. Glad you liked the video--this guy has made a few that are really extraordinary. Happy New Year.

  2. I read your entries a few times, coming back to rethink what I've read, for I find there is a lot of 'good stuff' here to process and consider.
    I hope your 2014 is a marvelous year indeed.
    Please keep writing; yours is one of my favorite and better reads.

    1. I wish the same to you and Someone, Michael. Your words are very kind! I intend to keep writing, though I plan to revamp the blog since I am staying in L.A. I am glad that you find time to read my essays with all the tons of blogs you are obligated to.