The New Year

The new year is upon us and I, like most everyone, am caught between reflecting on the year that has passed, and looking forward–with eagerness, trepidation, cautious hope–to the new year.

2023 as a blank notebook. A clear sky. A trailhead with no clear terminus, or direction, really.

And yet, here we are, here I am, about to embark on a new journey. What will it bring? How will I handle it? How will I embrace it as my life, something full of wonder and joy, even if it’s a hard course.

In such moments, I often turn to poetry. Here’s a poem by Ryokan, a Japanese hermit-monk, which somehow seems to capture what I’m trying to describe.

Happy new year to all.

Finishing a day of begging,

I return home through the green mountains.

The setting sun is hidden behind the western cliffs

And the moon shines weakly on the stream below.

I stop by a rock and wash my feet.

Lighting some incense, I sit peacefully in zazen.

Again a one-man brotherhood of monks;

Ah… how quickly the stream of time sweeps by.

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