The New Year

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  • We are gathered up close around the table a beachside restaurant on a moonless Mexican night. Stories spill out between us, easily like we have known each other forever. The tale of an old man nicknamed Milagro is jointly told by Laura and Jesse. Seems Milagro was snorkeling when he ran out of strength to come in. Hector, who was standing chest deep in the water fishing thought he heard a call but thought little of it. Then he noticed the man had stopped moving. He dove forward and swam out to the still body and pulled him back to shore. Milagro had swallowed so much water, I could still see the amazed horror in Jesse’s eyes as he told the story. But the end of the story you already know–for who would call an old man Milagro unless he was in fact, a miracle. He survived and walks the beach today.

I like this story. Someone was in trouble. Someone paid attention. Because of that Milagro is still with the living. Just like that, we can so easily die. By some serendipitous luck, we are called back to life. As we walk home on the dirt streets, Steve asks “what was it about that story that caught your interest so much?”

“Because I almost died, too” I respond, simply. “That’s all.” Perhaps it is his nickname. Milagro. I also live with this nickname, Milagra, in my case. I also walk the beaches again with the knowledge that my life is a miraculous gift. In the cancer lexicon, I am two years old after my stem cell transplant, my re-birth.I know now that normal is ridiculously complex. Ordinary is gloriously extraordinary. I will forget this everyday and go on with the careless attitude of living. But I will also remember it in unexpected moments, when the forgetting leaves me thirsty, and I drink the beauty of the world and know the miracle of me.

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Children playing

Yesterday evening, we watched the sunset, like we, and so many other people do here, day after day. The sea glittered with an orange sheen over a silver blue surface. Mexico allows an unhurried pace, the warmth encouraging another 10 minutes, forgetting what we were supposed to do next. We ponder beauty here, as we do at home. In the north, I can stare out my window for a long time, too long, as it turns out, when the weather is cold and rainy. I made it to my 65th birthday. Now movement and beauty have become precious priorities. The thin sliver of the new moon hung in the afterglow of the sunset. This elemental life is a balm on the wounds of what became an overly focused and increasingly technological career.

Elena day dreaming at the Cultural Musem in Mexico City.

Elena day dreaming at the Cultural Musem in Mexico City.

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The wedding that brought us south in December. I was the officiant.

I am healthy now. I also know how fleeting this can be. Health, as it turns out, is comprised of small everyday practices. You can talk all you want but life requires action. And, ironically, non-action. Everything about my time with cancer — the hospital stays, the medications– especially the steroids– was imprinted by sleeplessness.  A few months ago, when I talked to another cancer survivor, she noted that this sleepless pattern became nearly tattooed onto our souls. I pray it’s not permanent.

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Mexico City

When I was sick, it felt dangerous to relinquish control. Now I understand how destructive insomnia is. The act of turning away from the feminine receptivity of rest is a kind of violent resistance to the rich unconscious realm of dreams, and the symbolic language of intuition.

By committing to learn to sleep, I am doing something radical. I am healing a tendency to want to be able to manage the world around me, and I am telling my body it is safe again to sleep. I can rest my life and let the Great Spirit be the boss of the world.

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On a hot, moisture-laden night– with firecrackers blazing and luminaries floating– in the noisy open air of Mexico, we celebrated the last day of 2015 with good friends and both daughters. I love the Pause, between my birthday, December 20th and the New Year. For several days, time feels suspended in the short days and long nights. Once the year grows legs, about mid January, it starts to gallop, and it doesn’t ever really stop. Up toward the. Zenith of the Summer Solstice, down to the Winter Solstice… Pause, start again. It is a great time to think about the year past and notice what happened. So easily, we could let it go by without doing that. So easily, our life could flow by without any kind of attention. So, we pause. We celebrate and acknowledge what happened. And then we set our intentions for the new year. Just intentions, mind you. Very tenderly we touch them, knowing we will forget them, become inattentive once again, modify and deny them. Still we do it, because we are hopeful.

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4 comments on “The New Year

  1. Wishing you a blissful return to the unconsciousness beauty of the flowing stream. Happy New Year! So joyful that you are still here to enjoy it!

  2. Hola Shann. Once again I enjoy your musing and this time from a much nearer perspective in the retirement community of Bucerias. No nos hemos matado de milagro. PV seems too crazy, here seems too dull. Mark Twain says “go to heaven for the climate, go to hell for the company”. He’s right. Hope I get to see Mariya. I texted her but if she fails to get it I have a Mexican tel and the number is 322-240-5262. My best to you all. Is Elena still with you? Mars tarde. Estevan

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. BRAVA! Absolutely the best of all your essays. SO well written, so insightful, so celebratory.

    And the photos were “perfect.” Your first photo showed you in “perfect” health with that glorious fresh fruit.

    Also perfect: spending your big birthday with your entire family!

    Such a joy, Alice

    ========== Alice B. Acheson, Book Marketing/Publicity Specialist P. O. Box 735 Friday Harbor, WA 98250 360/378-2815 http://sites.google.com/site/alicebacheson Do It Yourself Life wrote on 1/12/2016 12:52 PM: > WordPress.com > Shann Weston posted: ” We are gathered up close around the table a > beachside restaurant on a moonless Mexican night. Stories spill out > between us, easily like we have known each other forever. The tale of > an old man nicknamed Milagro is jointly told by Laura and Jesse. Se” >

  4. Today your writing touched me deeply; with family around in a country so full of bold. I am happy to hear and see your life rebound in such a marvelous way

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