22 December 2013. My sister fell ill earlier this week, undermined by a steroid. Her underlying illness, for which the steroid was prescribed, is worrisome. Illness of someone close inevitably reminds you of your own mortality, given our penchant for self-referencing. So much for empathy! Or, more charitably, perhaps this argues that empathy is ultimately imagining the other as oneself.
Recently, I traveled west to Singapore and Shanghai, and then east to New York City. This happened in a three-week period, with an interval here (Berkeley and San Francisco) between the two trips. I wrote briefly about the two Asian cities elsewhere (j2parman.tumblr.com) and have thought to write more, but the experience hasn't quite jelled yet. I noted that all three cities are less visibly dense than Tokyo. I was surprised how big Singapore is, in fact, and how much open space it still contains. Manhattan and Hong Kong have a rough equivalency, although the skyscrapers of Hong Kong are a more impressive sight than almost anywhere else when viewed from the water - a skyline that won't quit. Shanghai may impress in this regard, too, but it was too smogged up while I was there to see.
When I wrote up my year-end summations (here and on another blog, berk94708.blogspot.com), I realized how much traveling I did this year. The trips were generally fairly short, although I managed 18 days or so in Europe, practically a record. Nine or 10 days are more like it: enough to get my feet wet, but not enough to get homesick and/or strung out. I don't really like living out of a suitcase, although I've mastered the art. With my odd nature, I find that I desire company, but then have to hold them at bay in order to recover from the physical drain that social interaction causes me. As I get older and more aware of how my body and psyche work, I try to calibrate this (and explain it) more carefully.
When I look back at the year, I see certain things done and other things not. What gets done is of course a result of consistently working at it, so there are weavings and sketches, for example, but the blogs - particularly TraceSF.com - have received less attention. One of my resolutions for 2014 is to master the WordPress posting process, which I still don't understand completely. I've also asked my daughter to join the party as managing editor, hoping this will improve its rate of flow. I started a sonnet series called "The Barn Partitas" that I want to finish. I've been thinking about other kinds of writing. If I could write the way I weave, I'd be more productive, I tell myself. Make a practice of it, in other words.
At the end of my 2013 best-of list, I thanked friends and family for making it a memorable year. I think I'm lucky in this respect, that I make friends easily and enjoy our conversations. My sense of time is such (as I've written here before) that I don't feel especially the distance of absence. On the contrary, I sort of pick up wherever we left off, the memories of those occasions regaining immediacy. It's a helpful aspect of my nature, at least to me.
I don't think one can possess anything except momentarily. One often speaks of friends in the possessive, but friends are part of what makes life wondrous. Like everything else, ourselves included, they're part of an unfolding landscape, nothing to cling to, as the Buddhists say, but nothing is ever really lost, either, the Taoists add helpfully. When the curtain closes, it all vanishes, this world we view from our particular perspective. Or maybe not, who knows? At minimum, something else arises.
Yet, within this, certain people stand out. It's like there's some prior tie that's still working itself out.