In my secret heart, I want to be a present day Joni Mitchell—with the musical bones of Sondheim, the jazz brilliance of Eliane Elias, the grit of Patti Griffin, the spirit of Leonard Cohen, and the fame of, oh, I guess, James Taylor. But here I am, just me. Puppy hat and mittens. And the children and songs and musicals I’ve brought into the world. Woefully ignorant of politics and world events. Perceptive and curious about human behavior. A bad driver. Can make really good foccaccia. Fluent in Italian. Halting but perfectly pronounced French. Detail oriented. Not great at seeing the big picture. Good with kids. Good with animals. Good with a camera. Good with words. Good with music. Tortured in my own way deep inside, but, you know…the puppy hat kind of ruins that whole scene.
So when I think of this new turning of the year, and the hilarious, grandiose way my ego wants to see itself, I remember that part of T. S. Eliot’s “East Coker”:
“And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”