Sunday, January 01, 2012

Spiral Notebook Sunday: Tuesday, December 9, 1998

Every year, as December winds down, I try to remind myself that the end of the year and the beginning of a new one are merely numbers on a calendar that itself is just an attempt to break infinity up into comprehensible pieces that our feeble minds can more easily understand. And every year, I'm reminded that while it is an arbitrary designation, it is also an almost irresistible one.


Tuesday, December 29, 1998

I've been thinking about that expression "It's water under the bridge." I've always thought of it as a reminder that we are helpless to change the past and as advice not to let our pasts affect us in the present. That view overlooks the transformative power of water--the ability of water to radically alter (permanently) the landscape it passes over, around, under, through. It's water under the bridge, yes, but each ounce that flows there chips away grains of sand on the bank, rubs pebbles a little smoother, leaves behind minerals it's carried from upstream. Water under the bridge.

I'm beginning this journal in the last week of the last month of the next to last year of the last century of this millennium. It's that taking stock time of year--the stakes a little higher than usual what with all those zeros hovering on the year 2000 now only a teensy bit over a year away.

Taking stock of my life--particularly if my focus is the past few years--is a dangerous activity on some levels. There's such a fine line between "taking stock" and dwelling--taking stock a healthy constructive activity with (hopefully) the healthy outcome of a stronger sense of self (where you're coming from, going to, etc. Which reminds me of a line from a Shaun Cassidy song*: "'Cuz I know where you're coming from and goin' to--I even know exactly what you're gonna do.") and dwelling an obsessive exercise in masochism. Guess which one I'm better at?

*This quote is from "Our Night," which according to the infallible (heh) Wikipedia was written by Carole Bayer Sager and Bruce Roberts. It may or may not have been recorded by someone besides the incomparable Shaun Cassidy, but my only experience with it is from Cassidy's album Under Wraps


  1. One of the most common greetings given me, as a small boy by my father was, "Do you know where you're at, Mark?" I would answer, "Yes, Papa, right here." And he would respond, "See that you don't forget it." That's about as good as it gets for me. Thanks for the look back at the Spiral Notebook. It's a good time for that.

  2. Moving forward and having a clue what 'forward' even means isn't as easy as it might sound. I was blessed with a few really great teachers, and one of them asked us to consider three questions:

    Where am I going?
    How will I get there?
    How will I know I've arrived?

    He rocked.

  3. "every year, I'm reminded that while it is an arbitrary designation, it is also an almost irresistible one."
    I was thinking something very similar yesterday. And, I'm always up for a fresh start, so here's to the new year!

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  5. I wish I'd had the good sense to keep a spiral notebook. I'm glad you did.

    (and my word verification for this comment is 'aramis', which was my father's cologne. That means something, I'm not sure what.)

  6. I'd love for my kids to have a teacher like Word Nerd's. In case they don't though, I'll save up these bits of wisdom (Mark's father's as well) for when they can understand them. I appreciated your deeper look at the expression "water under the bridge"- food for thought:)