A lot of famous people died this week, and I feel like the passing of Ian Tyson got lost in the shuffle. A Canadian cowboy turned folk singer, he wrote "Four Strong Winds," the ultimate New Year's Eve song.
It's about how the winds of life scatter us from the people we love, and the sadness that comes with it. The line "But our good times are all gone/ And I'm bound for moving on" always makes me think of my amazing circle of friends in grad school and how fate condemned us to be separated. It also makes me think of being a high school teacher, where I get to watch teenagers blossom into adults but then have to say good-bye to them. I repeat this bittersweet ritual every year and it never gets easier.
I used to love New Year's Eve as a holiday. It meant a fun gathering with a group of my friends in Lincoln. Nebraska, made merry by food and drink. I haven't been able to take part for over a decade now, and the old professor who linked us all together has been dead for a few years. Nowadays New Year's Eve just reminds me of the impermanence of everything in this life.
I've got more yesterdays than tomorrows, and the burden of the past weighs heavy on my heart. The new year represents less a new beginning for me than it does a stark reminder of my mortality. I am thinking a lot tonight about how the strong winds of life have separated me from so many people over the years, some of them permanently through death.
I know this isn't exactly the cheeriest New Year's Eve message but tomorrow I will focus on the future. We owe it to those we've lost through death, distance, and estrangement to remember the good times we had together before they were all gone.