Resolution

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Whether you use the Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam-Webster Dictionary or even the latest Dictionary.com…everywhere, the definition of the word “resolution” includes being “firm” or “determined” or “formal.” Last New Year’s Eve, I resolved an achievable idea…nothing grand, but I chose a real resolution about which I was and could remain determined…

I had talked about starting a blog for a long time, but this year was the year: “I want to assert my continued relevance...” My resolve was not immediately productive…I posted my first blog on May 16. Starting the blog, I had forced weekly discipline on myself, a discipline to craft a correct, meaningful, brief essay. I’ve not reached the readership I wished for, I’ve had pitifully few comments and “likes” along the way, but this is my twenty-seventh entry…I congratulate myself that I was firm and determined in my 2016 resolution.

Importantly, I’ve enjoyed a significant side benefit to my resolution: I’ve learned to pay close attention to even the small things and moments in my life. I’ve enjoyed, suffered, relished, grieved, struggled, savored, resisted, and wondered each of the 366 days of the year! I worry how many days and moments simply passed me by—like letters coursing through the Post Office—in past years. But in 2016, I paid uncommon attention to the days and moments, pursuing my “blog resolution.” Many moments became blog entries: summer storms and rainbows, visits to museums, meteor showers, the election, etc.

But much of that side benefit has simply been to know, every day, that I’m alive and presented constantly with moments worth noticing. Moments worth noticing from the simplest joys—enjoying summer’s South Jersey produce or reading Dante’s Divine Comedy; to the most profound events—a farewell party of friends and family when I left my former job or reading the beautiful eulogy written by my wife at her mom’s funeral. The year took me everywhere, and fortunately I noticed more of it than ever before.

We watched a special presentation of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) at the Kimmel Center, a screening accompanied by the Center’s Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ…an accompaniment that vibrated the house; a friend and I saw Sophia Loren—still beautiful at 82—interviewed in her charming, broken English; I spent an evening on-the-town in NYC, dining at Gotham Bar & Grill and then startled by American Gothic; my family completed a “pilgrimage” to premium seats to hear Brian Wilson play Pet Sounds; I watched one evening after sunset as Venus and Jupiter met in the sky, even though in reality, they're about 450 million miles apart (They won't meet so closely again until 2065...I expect to be moldering by then, if not completely moldered); I helped a friend through cancer treatment and then, two months later, fished him out of the bay when he fell out of the kayak…all moments worth noticing.

Pay attention—I did—because those moments come and go so quickly. Late in summer, my daughter and I drove across the Cape May peninsula just to watch the Sun set into the Delaware Bay. When we arrived at Sunset Beach, we found a crowd of about 300 other sunset-watchers crowded on the beach; just ahead of sunset, officials lowered the flag and played the National Anthem over a loudspeaker…all 300 paused, many removed their hats, many even put their hands over their hearts. Then the Sun graced us with a dazzling sunset behind wisps of cloud. As darkness fell, we drove halfway back across the cape where we happened upon a quaint little restaurant housed in the back half of a general store. We enjoyed a bread plate to start and a vegetarian gnocchi plate with local ingredients and a local Cape May wine…all made greater by the serendipity of finding the restaurant right there, right then. We cruised around a very dark Cape May Point and climbed the steps over the dunes—large, elaborate dunes covered with sedge to protect the neighborhood—and enjoyed a moonlit view of the ocean meeting the Delaware Bay…all moments worth noticing.

I had made a resolution to blog; keeping the resolution led me to very much more. Happy past year, happy new year!