As I’m about to head out to run, I’m realizing that 2011 is closing much as it opened … A sunny cool day during which I spent the morning learning something new. Last year, it was running. This year it’s playing the ukulele.

As I’ve strummed my way through this week trying to figure out how people cram all their fingers into an area the size of a postage stamp, I’m in fifth grade again, learning to play the clarinet. It took a week to get a sound out of the thing. It took a month to get a scale and Hot Cross Buns. I wasn’t frustrated at the time, because I had no preconceived notions of how it was supposed to be. I just knew that eventually, I wanted to be good enough at this thing that I could play The Pink Panther Theme.

I guess what I’m getting at is trying to play the ukulele pushes me outside the lines I normally color within. Just like developing film this summer did. Or learning to run over the past year. And I’m trying to become comfortable in the discomfort of not knowing how to do something.

And rather than trying to hurry through the learning-how parts, I’m trying to bring focus and intent to the wibbly-wobbly part that happens before you learn how to do something.

Maybe that’s something like a resolution. Or maybe that’s just learning to get out of the way of what the mind wants.

This Thursday, 22nd December, is the winter solstice, the day when the night is the longest.  In ancient times, our forebears would observe all manner of dramatic rituals … huge bonfires, virgin sacrifices, fanstastical savior birth narratives, making gifts of heavy inedible cakes.  Anything to beat back the wolves of Death and Darkness from the door.

This year, I’m saying “Fuck you” to death and darkness and running face first out into the unknown.  I’ve always felt that I was trying to outrun a kind of death when I run.  Not capital D death, which is inevitable and possibly our greatest journey of all.  I’m talking about what the Bene Gesserit called the “little-death that brings total obliteration” … fear.

I don’t know when my time will come.  But I’ll be damned if I’m just going to let myself, my brain, my spirit just sort of relax/laze/slip effortlessly into the emotional stasis that signals the beginning of the end.  

We never know if the light at the end of the tunnel is that of delivery or an oncoming train.  But waiting on it can’t be an option.  Death will come some day, too swiftly, too suddenly, too unexpectedly.  But the Little-Death that hangs around in our psychic dark corners is a snivelling, sneaky little fucker who hates action, hates resolve, is terrified by change.  

There is a promise buried deep in the shank of the longest night of the year … that it’s only one night long.  And that immediately after the clock ticks over to midnight, the days become longer, the nights become shorter.  Little-death goes crawling back to the cesspool that bred it.

So fuck you, Little-Death, I’m going for a run.  Catch me if you can, asshole.