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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nocturnal Holiday Musings


It’s 4:50 a.m... I’ve been listening to a rather languishing a.m. station that’s tuned in somewhat faintly within the corridors of my dysphonic somnambulist soul. Frank Sinatra is softly crooning a perpetually romantic rendition of ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’. Director Frank Capra’s timelessly poignant character, George Bailey consistently occupies that virtuously relevant portion of my often disillusioned holiday heart. But make no mistake about it... I sincerely admire George Bailey. I can’t help it. He reminds us all each and every hectic holiday season that we are so much more than a piece of irrelevant carpet lint on the vastly eternal rug of life.

Clarence, the wacky yet lovable “angel first class” shares his child-like interpretation of the individual significance we each take for granted on a daily basis. As resident ‘Peanuts’ Zen-like philosopher Linus explains to Charlie Brown the religious and spiritual connotation of Christmas, I must confess, I feel compelled to carry a trusty blanket and find peaceful solace in all of my nocturnal wisdom. Linus of course, personifies the immovable force of absolute faith in all that is truly “hopeful”. Whether you are religious or not, you can’t help but feel a bit comforted by Linus’ frank understanding of the human tendency to become “caught up” in the whole process of materialism and status. As Linus so eloquently explains, the holidays are supposed to, apart from all of those witty yet immensely commercialized standards, generate a distinctly humble sense of “goodwill” and “compassion” amongst all mankind.

From my own life experience, this of course, all somehow tends to dissipate during what I call the “Holiday Deadline Crunch Week”... Of course, I have often pondered the real meaning behind the necessity of shopping relentlessly for the appropriate gift. I’ve often discovered over the years, I have no accurate way to gauge the word “appropriate” when it comes to gift selection. It’s almost like blindly throwing an aerodynamically correct paper airplane into a hurricane.

So instead of cluttering my psyche with the vast selection of never quite appropriate gifts, I choose to contemplate concepts of a more consequential nature. I pause quietly to reflect upon my own Christmas past. I envision my family and friends and I must admit I begin to think perhaps the ultimate purpose of the holiday season does really come from within... that the meaningful gifts we essentially give one another each and every year can’t ever be discovered at Wal Mart... that the Grinch couldn’t steal Christmas from the kindly Whos in Whoville... because the sentiment exists in a deeper place we tend to forget during the mundane rituals we so incessantly complain about.

The indisputable passion of the holiday season allows us all the rare opportunity to embrace those closest to us with love. That a likely explanation for the evolution of life on the planet is that it was deemed necessary that there should be at least one species on the planet with an awareness of its underlying reason for existence. And just what might be the reason why this form of life has come to exist, to have this wondrous thing called “self-awareness?” I myself argue that it is because there is the need for at least one species to be able to articulate its reason for being.

Reflecting on the wake, my purposeful passage through the last forty-something years of this sojoum “around the great pond” has left on the shore, it occurs to me that it has been to reach a point where it was possible to recognize that this thing called “life”... has been different as the result of my having been here. It is the realization that just as I can list a litany of experiences that have shaped the choices I have made. It also occurs to me that not only have I been placed on this earth to make a difference, but more specifically, to have placed a “positive” spin on this existence.

As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while we are making plans.” I was far too focused on the destination to realize that it is the journey that is of substance. But how does one come to truly appreciate the journey, to realize the importance of the present moment? How do we learn to look back, but not stare into the past? How do we come to recognize that all events, even the chaotic and traumatic, are part of all that is not so much “good nor bad,” but simply meaningful? I then glance back over my shoulder and note the opportunity to learn at the knee of a grandfather whose enduring wisdom was never accurately reflected in his academic credentials or public accomplishment, but who found meaning in the little things he could do for others.

Whether it is the films of Frank Capra, inspired by the depths of misery during the great depression and W.W.II or the incredible mosaics of St. Isaac’s in St. Petersburg produced by the masters who worked for next to nothing in Czarist Russia more than a century ago, this thing called life, for me, is different because somehow and in some way, individuals followed their hearts and listened to the passion that welled up from deep inside and could not be contained by the reason and logic that the world tends to use as a deterrent to hold back one’s passion and creativity. We all posses the ability to give flight to the human spirit. Just as we have had to leam how to look for the “gift inside of the problem,” so do those with whom we share this planet need the opportunity to learn this miniscule bit of wisdom; we tend to do best what we do most... to dare to dream or show compassion.

That being said... I have been so blessed.

I have had the unique opportunity to cross the paths of some unbelievably remarkable people in my 44 brief years on this plane... relatives, teachers, friends, actors, artists, students, clients and more than a few strangers who have touched my soul and never even knew how deeply, shaping my life in countless and wondrous ways. I have come to enjoy this life, but most importantly it has presented me with the opportunity to realize that I have had and continue to have the opportunity to accomplish the very reason that I have been placed on this earth... to leave this place, this plane of existence, in just a little bit better shape for my having tried
to make a difference. And to all of you whom I hold so dear... I wish you peace, love... and a silent good night.

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

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