Echoes and blurs

January 1st, 2005 Comments Off on Echoes and blurs

First day of the new year. When I was younger, I used to spend the last night of the old year awake. Staying awake for more than twenty-four hours straight at least once each three-hundred and sixty-five days was a way to mark the beginning of a new stage in my life. When I got married, however, my habits changed, and I stopped doing it. Getting older, sometimes working until the last minute of the year, going home tired to the bone; things like that take away that juvenile spirit that makes us want to challenge ourselves with a long sleepless stretch.

This year, however, I ended up staying awake the whole night. I didn’t plan it. It just happened. I watched a movie with my brother earlier in the night, then he went to bed. My sister awoke, and we watched another movie. Later, she went to sleep again, and I remained awake, alone. The rest of the house, friends and family, slept in peace. I went to the computer, to check the news while I thought about life.

Dawn is coming out there. The light of a pale sun spreads slowly across the windows, lighting the houses around, coloring the sky with a fading pink that, so short-lived, is already losing its place to the smooth blue of the morning. And I think about those whose dawn wasn’t or won’t be so quiet and peaceful.

The end of a year is always a time for reflection, even if we try to avoid it. The fleeting aura of another year that breathes its last, leaving behind only echoes and shadows that are slowly dissolving, invites the mind to brood about its own mortality. The end of an old year and the beginning of a new year are the edge of reality, the place where past and future face each other for a brief moment in a silent struggle.

The year of 2004 was, in retrospect, an incredible year to me. My life changed completely when my son was born, an event that provided me with a entirely different perspective about so many things that I wouldn’t know where to start were I to enumerate them. Even lesser events were colored by this big change.

I’m currently reading Tomorrow Now, by Bruce Sterling, and he uses fatherhood many times as an analogy in some of his predictions about the future. Among those analogies, a specific sentence called my attention. He wrote, “We are the past of our children.” Being a father made that very clear to me. I am the past of my son. In years to come, I will be one of the things by which he will measure his life, understanding it in its context.

While this particular sentence may seem disheartening, I think it is full of optimism. When the past is clear, the rest of our lives in put in the right perspective. Time flies, as it’s proverbially said, but it also flows with a painful softness, a sweetness that can be savored at each of the indivisible instants that make up our existences.

I remember waiting anxiously for the turn of the millennium. What time to live in! To see the moment in which three nines became three zeros, moving the hand of the clock so slightly and so titanically at the same time… Now, five years have gone by since that happened — more than eight since those days of eager waiting. I grew and I diminished. I learned and I forgot. I was ashamed and I was proud. I cried and I laughed. Each of those seconds of memory is a red brick in that thing I call identity. Echoes and blurs, but trails as well. Breadcrumbs in the way.

The future? I don’t know of it. Using the words of an old sage, the only thing I must do is to decide what I will do with the time that is given to me. Maybe that’s the only new year resolution I can make: consider the potential of every minute. Some, inevitably I will spend unwisely. But I will try to make every one count. After all, there’s a house to build, and I need bricks.

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