Back in the supposedly bucolic '50s, when I was a girl living on a Midwestern farm, the only way to learn about pop culture -- or any culture, really -- was the radio. Somewhere TV had been invented but it hadn't reach our part of the country. I discovered the Hit Parade, Sinatra, Como, The Andrews Sisters, Rosemary Clooney and then there was Elvis! I discovered the Hit Parade and listened religiously, as I listened to the Saturday Metropolitan Opera broadasts.
This came back to me today as I listen, as I have for some years, to NY's classical music radio station, WQXR, which each year does a "classical count down" of the top pieces as voted by their listeners. All warhorses of course. Beethoven is the heavy weight winner and his 9th Symphony is always number one, usually played around about midnight on New Year's Eve. The choices change position a little year to year but it's predictable -- except this year there's no Schubert Trout Quintet and I'm very deeply disappointed.
Celebration -- as in partying -- is something I have almost never done on New Year's Eve. Sometimes I'm a bit sad that that's how my life has turned out. Mostly I am content to listen to music I love, write a summary in my diary, perhaps write some resolutions in a new diary, throw the coins for an I Ching reading -- no. I swear to you, I do not think of it as predictive. I've been throwing the I Ching for years and am convinced it is pure chance, but it is always wise. Always worth contemplating. I've read it so long, [at least 30 years] I'm deeply influenced by the Confucian translation and the philosophy of moderation I find there. I have trouble empathizing with the many people who write at length about their "quests" and "spiritual journeys". It all seems so self-agrandizing. A balanced view of the world was defined by Lao Tzu and commented on my Confucius hundreds of years ago. We don't need to reinvent the wheel; we only need to keep our eyes and minds open so we are abreast of how civilization is progressing, or more often, spinning its wheels in a mire of ignorance, greed and selfish misery.
So that is my ritual, some introspection about my own progress through life, a few moments of thinking about something wiser than I am, and much very beautiful music ... a pleasant dinner, a little Scotch and the prennial resolution to try to read 100 books this year [I'm a slow reader and don't usually make it past 70]. And the recognition that in fact this is a totally arbitrary milestone, a social construct that I can chose to imbue with meaning or not since various peoples recognize various new year's dates and in fact there is no such thing, there is just a method of counting the days. We so often forget that the days we can count will be numbered and we know now what that number will be. I think of poet Mary Olvier's live, "what will you do with your one wild and wondrous life?"
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