Solstice. A perfect metaphor for our dual selves, darkness and light. Celebrated since ancient times, it’s the occasion when the sun appears to stand still just for a moment before an inevitable seasonal change begins. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the longest day – a time to fling oneself outside, to inhabit the long flame of day and bask in its lingering afterglow. A time to make stories.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and longest night: a time to draw in, gather ourselves and tell our stories. Storytelling is as old as humanity and almost as necessary as breathing. In many ways, we are our stories. And the tales we make (and the lives we live) are both wildly individual and communal. We draw from and nourish ourselves from others’ stories as much as our own.
I’m grateful this past year has been full of that kind of nourishment. In addition to writing my own words, I’ve savored others’ storytelling in their words, in books. From heartbreaking revelations exuding tremulous bravery to quirky accounts of misadventures, and everything in between – I’ve witnessed the pain and joys of others’ lives. Just a few books that I read in 2015: Beautiful Affliction by Lene Fogelberg, Heartprints of Africa by Cinda Adams Brooks, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller, Fourteen by Leslie Johansen Nack, The Thriver’s Edge by Donna Stoneham, and – because sometimes we just need to laugh out loud: The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Marteen Troost.
I’m thankful to all of you for sharing your personal journeys, and grateful that The Coconut Latitudes continues to touch so many people in unexpected ways. I’m also delighted to be included in a new book this year, My Gutsy Story, (2nd Ed.) an anthology edited by Sonia Marsh, featuring inspirational tales about taking chances in life. Sometimes it seems that we should stop taking any chances in light of recent world events. As we reel from news and disasters, we hold our breath and wonder what new conflicts await in 2016 to challenge our hearts. In the midst of that uncertainty, maybe the best we can do is just continue to live our lives, tell our stories and share our truths. Regardless of the good and evil in humanity, we can take solace that the earth is predictable. It tilts on its axis away from or toward the sun. Darkness and light; inexorable shifts in one direction or the other.
As the solstice occurs, we take a breath and carry on as a new year is birthed. Right now trees are bare, but new buds are just biding their time to bloom. I’m looking forward to another writing adventure in March, joining Wanderland Writers in Andalucía, Spain. Led by Linda Watanabe McFerrin and Joanna Biggar, a group of us will explore new territory and find ways to put our experiences into words. Who knows what new tales will emerge?