Happy EFFing New Year

by Pamela Goode

It’s raining, it’s cold, I have two visiting dogs under my feet but no one else, and it’s only 10:00, early enough to believe I have plenty of time to ready the house and larder for a new wave of guests arriving tomorrow. And it occurs to me that this moment is the closest I’ll come to a quiet, contemplative chunk of time before the dreaded New Year.

It may surprise you to learn that I loathe the approach of any new year almost as much as my ultimate fear, The Tidal Wave. And of course it is both comforting and heinous that in my life, new Years arrive with much more alarming frequency. I won’t bore you with my hate list; after all, there is much to love about December 31 — sequins, party hair, dangly jewels and pushed-up breasts, Prosecco, expensive cuts of rarely-enjoyed red meats, laughter, friends, family, and maybe a kiss or two.

No, this year I’ll write about the bits that remain a part of our lives no matter the date: creation, decisions, choices, beauty, ugliness, successes and failures, but always love and always seeking.

I’ve cleared the business checkbooks off the kitchen table and replaced them with possibilities — a good start to any day — a small copper substrate and my prettiest ornaments — glass, copper, ceramics . . . and a cup of tea. I finger each in turn, assessing both its beauty and its meaning, the blatant and the quiet. I’ve already chosen a name for the piece, but haven’t yet settled on the partners that will commingle to make it whole.

And then (of course, you saw it coming), I can’t help thinking how so much of life is about the choices we make — and those that are made for us — sometimes by our allowing and other times in spite of our kicking and screaming. I can’t help wondering how our choices combine to make us who we are. What would you have done, and who would you be, if life — in all its incarnations — had not interfered? Who would I be? Would I still make art if I had grown up like other little girls? Would I write if I had not been too shy to speak? Would I have danced if I had been good at kickball? Would I be a mosaicist if drawing came naturally to me? Am I a laundry list of second choices, or was I blind to truth for too many years?

Have my choices been internal or external? Of me, despite me, or not me at all? And the choices I make for 2012, now that I am old(er) and (wise)er, will my choices be more on target, or have I learned to settle? Will I wish for more of the same because my life is blessed, or does my spirit still long to blaze a trail?

I’ve never been called spontaneous, and I’m tickled pink to love what I love. I’m happy to eat the same cereal every morning, wear the same jeans, and walk the same well worn streets (of Rome).

But in the minutiae of life, I confess that I have a special affection for the unexpected — the tarnish on the bling, the twisted touching skirts with the sublime. Our time on earth is so very much NOT a one-note dance, and I love the barely-noticed reminders of LIFE where we seldom think to look. And so it’s a no-brainer that I will select at least a bit of the everyday to tell my story in mosaic.

And of course here’s the thing: I like to think that my choices in art, as my choices in life, are intensely deliberate. But 90% of the time it’s the deliberate choices that I end up tossing into the bin, and the seemingly random finds that grab my heart. It’s almost as if my presence on this earth is not only arbitrary, but completely unnecessary — as if the “I” that I so carefully cultivate is no more than a worker bee robot for someone else’s fresher ideas, clearer vision, spot-on choices.

And so I end 2011 much the same as I started it — working, dreaming, becoming, creating, loving, encouraging, choosing — and wondering how much of my life has to do with me, and how much of it could have been the guy down the street.

But I’m learning one thing, and that is that in the end, it probably doesn’t matter. Maybe being the vehicle is a cool enough ride.