Time, time time, see what’s become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities.—“A Hazy Shade of Winter,” by Paul Simon
It is nearly the Winter Solstice–my favorite winter holiday. I much prefer it to Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Tonight it is bitterly cold, though, with a thin layer of snow just fallen, lights blinking on the battery-operated tinsel tree, cats batting at ornaments, and the scent of jasmine tea wafting through the house. So here I am on the couch, cozily scribbling about two tenses, the past and future as I wait for the future brighter days. (The present rarely exists. It’s much too shattering.)
Here are my plans for the Winter Solstice: Read less! Do something! Save the environment! Act now!
Or maybe I should do that the day after the Solstice.
Mins you, reading is my life. It is action. It expands our world, shapes who we are, and helps us survive the worst of times. It is also a drug: the best books lift us above the hysteria of the twenty-first century. I especially love the Victorians, who take their ethical dilemmas seriously, and interweave morals with the action of the plot. I personally can shrug off the end of the world if I have a copy of Bleak House. I’m stocking up on Victorians for 2030, the year climate change becomes irreversible.
As so often happens, I have read almost too much (150 books) this year, but I have also discarded tomes that started promisingly and then fizzled. I have a dismaying pile of partially-read new books on the nightstand: I gave up on most of these after one-third. When I tell myself to read less, I want the time back I lost on those books.
“Reading less” is a bizarre resolution, I know. I see a lot of: “Read harder!” “Read faster!” “Do the Goodreads Challenge!” That is so darling, so peppy, so optimistic, and yet so wrong. I have no team spirit. Yet it does kill time making checklists, photographing book hauls, scribbling in Planners, reorganizing TBRs, and photographing cats sitting adorably beside piles of books (my cats are not photogenic). And I consider those activities “reading less,” so I’m allowed to do them, even though I don’t join the team.
We who live at the end of the world don’t have much team spirit. Icebergs melting, impeachment hearings, the rollback of women’s rights, defunding Planned Parenthood, building the wall, Facebook scandals… we are exhausted. It is an angry age. Sometimes we wonder as we look around, What have humans contributed to the earth? Well… I’m not sure humans have done much. They can’t work together for change. It has been a chaotic year. But then we can’t see the future. Hope on, hope ever!
Well, it is officially tomorrow (after midnight). So I guess I’d better get ready to save the world.
And here is the video of Simon and Garfunkel singing “A Hazy Shade of Winter”