Category Archives: New Year’s

Myth, Ritual and the Holidays

An end of the year reflection

In this interim between the winter holidays and New Year’s, there is an opportunity to reflect. We may have a moment or two between social obligations to consider who we are, where we are, what we are grateful for, why we are here and how we are going to get where we want to go.

If we look at the rituals and myths we have set up as markers to navigate time, it will give us a greater understanding and insight to these questions.

The intensity of Christmas, for instance, is marked not only by the celebration, but an utter clinging to the myth of Santa Claus. This Christmas Eve, the weatherman on the evening news, had a radar screen that showed where St. Nick’s sled currently was. There is almost a militant adherence to the upholding of this myth. At the heart of it, is not an avarice or anticipation of material gain, but a cheerful magic that comes to remind us of our own benevolent nature and capacity for giving love.

The lighting of candles on Hanukkah at this time of year is a ritual that is based on a myth. The candles represent one can of oil, meant to last one day that burned for eight nights. The significance of this ritual and myth symbolize the courage of the human spirit as it stands up to the seeming dominance of tyranny. Every night of the holiday, more candles are added to increase the light. Each kindled flame represents the presence of a collective determination to uphold personal freedom. The honor of lighting these candles is a personal reminder to uphold the freedom of our collective humanity.

The ball that falls in Times Square at midnight at the end of the year, is an illuminated symbol of our collective adherence to linear time with all of its nostalgia and unknown possibility.  The ritual of celebrating with friends and even strangers, in a friendly, spill over the side of our comfort zone manner, goes beyond the tiny bubbles in our glass. It is an anticipated prolonged moment that makes us consciously aware of the present. In its own way, it offers us a portal to transcend time, our body, our routine and environment to recognize that we can change our hard-wired reality into something we equate with hope.

We can fly through the years on automatic pilot, and celebrate holidays and rituals perfunctorily, or we can use them to usher us into the present, savor our interactions and enter into a space where the person we long to be and the world we hope to belong to, raise a glass to us.

Happy New Years!

“We’ll take a cup of kindness yet”- Robert Burns

Cup o’ Kindness

Friendship and the joy of generosity

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to min’? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days o’ lang syne? For auld lang syne, my jo, For auld lang syne, We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne.”

–          Robert Burns


A fine friendship transcends the most expensive wine.  When you are with someone who is not self-conscious in your company but laughs with the abandon of a lifetime, treasures are imparted within the flow of the exchange.

This week, my friend Oz offered me this gem over dinner:

When he was living in Queens, he couldn’t make his rent.  Not knowing what else to do, he took his trumpet over to a friend’s house and offered to sell it to him. His friend thought he could resell Oz’s trumpet to one of his music students. Another of Oz’s friends was on hand and asked him what he had paid for the trumpet. Oz told him he had paid $800. He was then asked how much he was selling the trumpet for. Oz said he was selling it for $300. This inquiring friend took out his checkbook and wrote Oz a check for $800. He explained that when he was a kid he always wanted to play the trumpet but that his family could not afford to even rent one for him. There was a transcendent joy in his eyes as handed Oz the check because now he could afford to buy a trumpet for himself.  “Here’s the thing,” he said to Oz, “I am so busy now, I won’t be able to play it. Would you do me a favor and play it for me?” With that, he handed Oz his newly acquired trumpet.

Oz is still playing that trumpet and Oz’s daughter plays trumpet professionally, occasionally with Stephen Colbert’s Late Show band.

I have been reading Tony Robbin’s book Money, Master the Game. In it Tony talks about a stranger coming to his family’s house when he was eleven with grocery bags filled for a Thanksgiving feast. Because this one person cared for his impoverished family, Tony became motivated to care about other people. Today Tony feeds 100 million families annually. He makes the point that richness comes from the joy of giving.

tony robbins

“If you want to be rich, start rich.”- Tony Robbins

Julia and I are fortunate enough to be celebrating the end and the start of the year with my loving family. Almost an anomaly, my family has the warmth and compassion of good friends.  Seeing my parents retain their joy of giving and the fullness of the light that they have bestowed on us, and the river of friends embraced along the way, gives me hope for the New Year.

The actress Elaine Stritch said she wasn’t old, she was older, that we are all going that way. Love offers to suppliant fear on this journey we are all taking.  Each New Year’s is a portal that we pass through, quite often with a hangover, but we go though, individually bearing the life that is within us.  Whatever stage we begin to appreciate the value of that particular gem, is when what we have to bestow becomes priceless.

So, “Raise your glass, raise your hope, raise your courage up high.  All that we share will not be forgotten.  We’ll see you again by and by. Time to go. Time to go on our Way.” – The Levins

Raise your glass

May your way be filled with the joy of what you have to give in earnest.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

Stream of Light 12-31-14: The Caravan of Dawn- for Auld Lang Syne

Switch into loving this moment for what it offers simply.  There is a caravan of dawn that stretches from one end of the universe to the other and as we awake it calls out to us to join it’s splendor.  We are part of something so vast that we can easily forget that we have something to contribute.  The pageantry of being is so much grander than we are subdued into accepting.  Contemplate the truth behind your eyes.  Lifting up hope beyond what the mind dictates must be done for today’s tally sheet becomes the balancing act we have been asked to perform. 
Greatness becomes you.  This is not flattery but recognition.
Good Morning,
Here we are at the end of the beginning again. Cycles run through everything. We are a part of this fabulous ‘caravan of dawn’ and the part we play harmonizes with everything else.
Despite the discord and dissonance we occasionaly strike, in the movement, we manage to sip from the cup of kindness that Robert Burns sang about; especially when we are together.
An old tradition at the end of New Year’s Eve was for friends to gather in a circle with their arms crossed in front holding hands, sing Auld Lang Syne, for old times sake, to remember the beauty of friendship. Then, everyone would come into center of the circle and unwind so they were facing out, still holding hands.
I think of this core of friends.  Many of us have shared, seen and felt what it means to truly be our best selves within each other’s company.  We have also seen the vulnerability and know the intervals from dissonance to harmony as we have walked along together. Our hearts have traveled across the land and the lines we have drawn, heart to heart to heart create patterns, much like the magnetic lines that run through the earth.  
When we forget, we look down the well but the caravan marches on and we can reconnect to the heart pulse that remembers, that rejoices!
May your New Year begin a stout new chapter in your book that you will look back on and smile fully throughout your whole being.
I am grateful we are together!
Auld Lang Syne- Robert Burns 1788 
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup! and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend! And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne.
The Levins have reissued this video with the studio track from their upcoming album Trust.
I share it here because “On this New Year’s Night, it’s the land’s way of saying, ‘Hello!’.”
Traipsing the Michael-Mary
as the sky lanterns rise in an arc-aligned sign
over Glastonbury.
And we feel the power going into our hands
on this New Year’s night, it’s the land’s
way of saying hello.
“I’ve got so much to tell you, there’s so much to know.”
There’s a circle of stones in a green carpet field,
there is something inside us that is starting to yield.
Standing Over Us/  Watching Over us/ Standing Over us/ Watching over us.
The red and white springs rising. Tiny candles, they guard;
they are holding a space when our hearts becomes hard.
When our hopes become barren, the branches of trees
reach out to embrace us, before our souls freeze.
Go out past the ruins, come see what this means.
There’s an intricate weave between seen and unseen,
pulsing life into Winter until white becomes green.
Standing Over Us/ Watching Over us/ Standing Over us/ Watching over us.
There are lines in the land that are unmarred by time.
And they hum to us softly converging in rhyme.
Like the song that we sing at the start of the year,
it was penned in the past and it calls us to hear…
Standing Over Us…
There are lines in the land that are unmarred by time. 
Watching Over us…
And they hum to us softly converging in rhyme. 
Standing Over us…
Like the song that we sing at the start of the year,
Watching over us…
it was penned in the past and it calls us to hear… 
Standing Over Us/ Watching Over us/ Standing Over us/ Watching over us.
– The Levins