December always makes me particularly mindful of time and its passage; how it speeds and slows according to age, tasks, days, stress level, and a variety of other variables. I am ever more conscious of how quickly time flies as I grow older, especially now that my daughters are nearly grown and flown the nest. But I feel the passage of time most in December, when the frantic bustle of the holiday season can’t quite mask the recognition that another year is grinding toward its inevitable conclusion, firmly closing the door on yet another year of hopes and disappointments, successes, failures, joys and sorrows. For better or for worse, this chapter in the book of life has come to an end.
Before the last page of the year is written, at 11:59 p.m. on December 31st, we have one last month to tie the loose ends, to sort the done and the undone, to reflect and regroup. Winter lends itself nicely to this process; even here in sunny Southern California, there is a drop in temperature, a crispness to the air, a dullness to the sunshine that drives us indoors to more contemplative occupations. This is my favorite time of year to write, when I cocoon inside my favorite hoodie and sweats, sit in front of the computer, and escape inside my imagination. As I do, I am mindful that these are the last words I will type in the old year. They become a tribute, a last minute love poem to the best and the worst; what was and wasn’t.
January will come soon enough, sparkling with promise. I, like many writers, will resolve to write more, send out more stories, publish, market, repeat. I will approach each writing task with renewed energy, ready to discard old habits and embrace the new, inspired by the blank pages of this fresh chapter. The empty page is always terrifying: what should I say? Do I have anything to say? How do I make these new words the best they can possibly be? I know what I want to write, and the story has a way of telling itself; soon I will lose control, become swept away into wherever the plot takes me. I will have good writing days, and bad; some days, I won’t write anything at all. I will cry, I will rage, I will celebrate. This is writing. This is life. And so I will carry on until next December, when another chapter ends.
Endings and seem to carry the most significance; we measure our lives in what we start and what we finish. Yes, these are important milestones that drive us to accomplish goals and to reflect upon them. Yet when at last we finish our book, what really matters most are not our first and last chapters, but all of the story in between.
~ Kim Vandervort