Violet Dreams


Portrait of Violet Heydon by Odilon Redon

Last night, at the stroke of twelve, we let go of 2014. For some this “letting go” held regret, for others celebration.

I’m not sure where I was on the spectrum between the wistful romanticism of another year gone and the joy of charging full-bore around the bend into the unknown.

Rather than reflect on the old and new, our small group chose to celebrate, as is our custom. We held our poppers, waited for a ball to drop 300 miles away, then pulled the strings. Confetti flew amid puffs of smoke curling around quickly exhaled breath that had been held tightly moments before. The smell of a sulfurous new year filled the room as neighborhood friends blew noise-makers, toasted with sparkling wine and carbonated grape juice. Younger ones reached for more poppers, older ones reached for each other and kissed in the first hour of the new year.

Amid the happy confusion, I looked into my popper. Inside, still coiled as if to spring, were the bits of colored paper that should have blasted from the tiny plastic shell in strings of Happy New Year.

It would seem that even my popper was caught between holding tight and letting go.

I had such dreams at the beginning of last year – at the beginning of last decade – at the beginning of this millennium – at the beginning of my thirties – at the beginning of college – at the beginning of middle school. From my first moment of cognitive thought, I remember dreaming.

While I believe dreaming identifies us as human, defines our mortality, and gives us hope and direction to be more than who we are; I believe our supreme lesson on this earth is letting go of our dreams.

If 2014 taught me anything, it is this: Letting go is not just a one-time gig; it is the mechanism by which we move through life. Whether we tried or didn’t try, whether we loved deeply or didn’t love enough, whether we gave our soul or withheld our heart – whether we want to or not: we must all let go.

There is no promise we will find something new or better. There is no promise we will be avenged. Nor is there a promise we will fully heal. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Health and wealth preachers are wrong. Sometimes lost is lost and pain is permanent. Death – well, death is forever.

I am a good news kind of girl. I believe in the mystery of hope. But the reality is that sometimes we have to let go of the promises of something more, something better, something tangible. If we do not, we will not receive the one promise that letting go offers: peace.

Peace is good news.

Can I let go of the hurt from last year? Can I let go of the people I lost? Can I let go of what once brought me joy, but now brings me stress and pain? Can I let go of the rage and humiliation and fear of being less than I though I was? Can I let go of the people who encouraged me to feel that way?

I am fifty years old. Can I let go of changing the world?

Maybe I’ll hold on to that one a little bit longer.

I’m not sure I can let go of any of these things. Sometimes, as I’m falling asleep, my tightly-wound injuries whisper deceit, spinning colorful tales of retribution for wrongs committed and heroic rescues for those I love. These are lies that only take place in my dreams, sleeping and awake. As long as I dream them, they will never find release.

Time gives me no choice but to release 2014. I can never write it again on checks or permission slips or birthday cards. It is gone, never to return. But it is not good riddance until I do the ridding.

James Schuyler said, “It’s time again. Tear up the violets and plant something more difficult to grow.”

This year seems a good year to grow peace.

May it be with you and yours for the New Year.


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