The days are getting shorter. In a couple of weeks, we will have the least daylight of the year. Already the evening dog walks and runs are in darkness. We step through our backyard cathedral of redwood trees, headlamp as lucifer, the fog as incense. The dogs are unmoved by daylight savings. At first, they demanded dinner an hour early because their internal stomach clocks were not privy to the ways of humans. They seem to have adjusted. They do wonder at the live, piney tree with honest to God sap still flowing sitting in our living room. Once decorated, they will eat at least one ornament, as if it is their sacred duty.
Darkness seems appropriate as we complete this year. Certainly no year can be all out "bad". Years do not actually have feelings, qualities or actual existence. We create our calendar, our weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds to define a life passing by us indescribably fast. Time is not real, but it is all we have. 2016 has brought us personal grief: a son in jail, death of loved ones. 2016 has brought us public grief: somehow hate has become OK, and we are soon to lose a leader of grace and decency. Also, he knows what the hell he is doing, and though one might not agree with his policies, one must at least agree, he studied for the job, and understood his duty.
Darkness might include getting rid of Medicare. So many people I have cared for over the years depend on Medicare.
Darkness might include registering my Muslim friends. Yep, I won't take that one.
Darkness might include disrespecting my brown daughter, my lesbian daughter, my son with mental illness.
Darkness might include disrespect for women.
After December 21, though, the light takes over again. It is cyclical, like many powerful things in this life. January 20 might try to be dark, but January 21 will involve women shining light upon many American cities. It is a time for us to be awake. Awake to poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.
In the realm of running, I find solace. I go to the woods and the beach and realize I am a small part of a much bigger beauty. I count, but only insofar as I am aware and awake. I count on Mother Nature for healing and for getting dirty, quite literally. Mud, sand, redwood fronds and the rain soaking my clothes and shoes and dogs into a mess of smell. The floors I walk on cannot escape the detritus of our outdoor excursions. My home welcomes what the peace of wild things bring inside.
Time is irrelevant and irreverent. But it is what we have. As a doctor of elders, a mother of precious beings, a cousin of young mothers who have been lost to cancer, a daughter of parents gone too soon, I recommend never taking time for granted.
Also, Barack Obama? Yep, he knows what he is doing, and he cares. About all of us.
I think though, we have seen the light. And no one can ever take that away from us.