Please Take the Gun AND the Cannolis

I intend to live forever, or die trying.  --Groucho Marx

My computer died and went to the great motherboard about two weeks ago. I haven't received my replacement yet, but today I have computer access, an opportunity to post a short entry.

I was never big on New Years, as in, the stroke of midnight (and the tear-filled singing of Auld Lang Syne). I always felt there was too much invested in the turn of the hands on the clock, or maybe there was too much superstition. If something unfortunate occurred on January 1st, the entire year was set off to a bad start, or doomed. That made for a long twelve months of the year's worst moments recapped.

I prefer to think of each day as new. But as I write, it's New Years Day, and I want to wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and prosperous year.

My favorite movies about love and redemption were on television this holiday season. You know them: A Christmas Carol, The Grinch, It's a Wonderful Life. In the mix was the one that always perplexed me: The Godfather. I never understood how that crime family drama made it into the lineup of holiday classics at Christmastime. Whatever. I let it play this time, more as an observer of fiction, and pondered its characters, the strong-arm bullies, the enablers, the cannoli-makers and undertakers, even the poor restaurant workers who had to serve the grim characters and clean up after their shooting sprees. Who wouldn't resent that job?

I almost spit my egg nog when Michael Corleone, who - while hiding out in Italy - asked why there were no men in Corleone. The answer was simple: There were no men left in Corleone because they were all killed in vendettas. And while I laughed, there was something terribly true about it. It just happens in more subtle ways sometimes. For the first time, I saw that all of the holiday movies I mentioned, even The Godfather, had a main character that was bitter and who blamed others for his or her misery. The human element sure gets complicated.

I once had a friend, who painstakingly cleared her life of pesky negative people. She had a short list for Christmas cards that year, and I appreciated that I made the cut. At the same time, watching the others get knocked off made it difficult to enjoy my popularity -- the proverbial cannoli. I was unsure of what I did to deserve inclusion, and sure that, whatever it was, I wouldn't be able to sustain it. When you don't want to lose something, that something can become weighty.

Over the past year or so, I read a book written by Ira Wagler, Growing Up Amish. The author left the only world he knew in search of freedom. Freedom wasn't something that he experienced just because he stepped out of a community and into a democracy. It began as a quest in his soul, the need to rise, fall, grow, fail, succeed and learn from it all. Acceptance of the mixed bag of human life. And that's where I find God, too, in the part of me that trusts that God is near even in the falls, if I am willing to swallow my pride and surrender the need to always be right, or win favor, or make somebody's short list, because even our critics teach us something about our world, ourselves.

A friend read a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson after she moved from the east to the west coast to find the better life. She discovered that life was very similar, because the real change that was needed was within.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, for sending an email and commenting. It's been a blast and an exchange that I hope to continue with even greater regularity throughout the coming year.

God bless you. Happy New Year.