in judaism, it’s pretty straight forward: l’shanah haba’ah b’yerushalyim. if it’s a fine occasion, if there is celebration, the toast says: this time, next year, we should find ourselves celebrating in jerusalem.
usually when i think of that phrase, though, “this time, next year,” i am not thinking of myself in the present tense that will exist then. i am not thinking “in this moment, next year, i hope to be doing some thing X, in some place Y.”
rather, the language in my mind is language of the past. i think: this time, next year, i’ll have graduated from school. this time, next year, i’ll have finished this job. this time, next year, i’ll have left this country…
until now, maybe.
now, when i think of where i’ll be, of who i’ll be “this time, next year,” my eyes meet the edge of the sphere of beginning-again-after-the-terminus-of-some-past-accomplishment and push forward, gazing. if pressed for detail, i will revert to the present moment. what is out there, collecting and dispersing over and over (as the universe does, so must time, don’t you think?) – it may as well be myself in this moment in a rainbow striped sweater with three buttons on the shoulder, my hair about this length, my face about this shape, this very couch under my butt, this very stool under my outstretched legs, the very colors and shapes that warm my winter home still surrounding me in pretty much this order.
this time, next year, i expect i will be something like myself this time, this year: growing up, falling in and out of creative spurts, knowing who and what i am and then losing myself from my own radar, strong at times and weak at others.
on my thirtieth birthday, i cried. but, the next day, despite my flaws and confusions, i kept living. i don’t know if tears on a birthday constitute a thing of celebration, but, it is within the mess of continuance that the deepest joys become available to us. perhaps that simple acknowledgement, when lived in for a while like a good pair of jeans, can be realized as a thing of celebration after all.