By Samir Shukla
The brighter light of a supermoon sliced the dark night. That particular moon was parked behind an insignificant cloud, as seen from my deck, and somehow made the cool air feel warmer. It also brought a sense of newness, alighted by nature. The still of that night faded into the chilled morning. That supermoon teased its newness in early December and went about its business slowly waning into the same old typical moon in subsequent nights. Meanwhile, the jingles and the bells rang daily as the month of holidays strolled forward to meet its end and to begin a new year.
The town's denizens now competed with the moon, brightening the night with lights of red and green, blue and white, yellow and purple.
I was sitting on my favorite wooden chair one night in the living room, in the waning final days of December, the glow from the neighbor's Christmas lights filtered through the window. It was late. The TV was flickering about its business. My fingers were flipping through some favorite channels.
I landed on Turner Classic Movies and a smile formed on my face. A movie was playing, as it usually does on TCM. It was a western. Jimmy Stewart was riding a horse. His lanky body swaying in the heat of the desert he rode through. My sleepy eyes widened as westerns are among my favorite genres.
I was halfway through a beer, a rather potent IPA, and put the remote down to watch Stewart ramble about his western business while I polished off the beer. I wasn't planning on having another, but popped one open. It must have been the dry desert that Stewart was riding through that further jostled my thirst.
The movie rolled on. My eyes fought sleep as I drifted off and suddenly I was on a horse riding through the desert at night. My lanky body was swaying along to the rhythmic movements of the horse. The vastness of the American west was lit up by a giant supermoon. I rode on and on, into the next moment, around the next bend, and into the future.
I woke up when my head bobbed hard. The western and my dream were over and another movie was now rolling.
I turned the TV off, abandoned the last few gulps of the beer down the kitchen sink and crawled up the stairs to meet my bed.
While I drifted back into slumber, I thought of December winding down and the incoming year. The earlier supermoon that visited us and the moon in my western dream, were both hanging in the sky like portals into the future. They looked like gateways into something new, or some sort of newness, if you will. I vaguely remember dreaming of reaching up to the portals, looking for a latch to open them. A beer-infused sleep can be a restless one.
I don't seem to feel much newness anymore when the end of the year rolls around and a new one is lurking around the corner. The arrival of each fresh year spars with the older one about to wrap up, and the older one always loses, leaving itself behind to be judged by history, but all the while laughing at me and adding another notch to my years lived. Ha! There you go pal, the oldster says, one second past midnight.
I'm approaching the halfway point of my sixth decade on this fair planet, and now every year just rams into the next one in the churn of busyness.
So here I am in late December, and once again, toying with me, New Year's Eve approaches. For some it's just another evening, for most it is about the start of something fresh. It's a marker to erase some of the old and a chance to write new stories, a time to reflect on the year gone by and wager on the one incoming.
This past year was unique as of course all the others have been in their own manners. The year presented celestial wonders, a supermoon and a total solar eclipse gliding across America one afternoon.
It was also a year of political madness rarely seen in this lovely country. People who are generally nice, friends and neighbors became angrier, more separate, succumbing to shallow political arguments. Maybe the incoming year will soften some of the increasing disjointedness. Politics are politics, full of self-serving ideologies. It is up to reasonable people to affect positive movement and deflect long-term societal degradation.
Once again the New Year's Day will arrive. The day will progress into the week, the week into the month. Winter's hard grip will linger for a couple of months and then another renewal, a sense of freshness, will arrive with spring.
Resolutions have become passing fancies. This year, though, I resolve to do more of what I'm doing now, putting words down on paper. Tell some stories I haven't told or even thought of. Document the year as it unfolds. We will spend the eve of the incoming year in our own manners. Some will spend it quietly, others in the throes of lights, music and dance.
After the clock strikes midnight, with the old year tucked away into history, I'll dream of that American west and ride through the desert while I slumber in my warm bed. This time the horse will be riding with the wind, on a soft summer night, maybe a new supermoon will be hanging over the horizon, laughing and teasing with the promises and pitfalls of a new day and a new year ahead.
This piece originally appeared in the January 2018 edition of Saathee magazine.