“between the years”

Not much is supposed to happen “zwischen den Jahren,” the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The stretch of time “between the years” invites reflection, thoughts of what has passed, and ideas for what is to come. The holidays bracketing them may not mean all that much to me, but those days between the years are invaluable.

I try to spend them one or two time zones removed from what normally keeps me busy. I get to do all the activities (or non-activities) for which there has been less and less time over the last few years: sleep in, read, write, walk for hours, think, see exhibitions, be idle for a while.


This year, I’m in one of the most beautiful spots in the country, if not the world. but it’s not working: I’m finding it hard to be idle, and I have trouble keeping the restlessness at bay. One thing that seems to work are daily walks on the beach.


A few people call this place home. They could walk here every day, but not all do. Even paradise can lose its lustre when the day begins and ends with a long commute (on a scenic highway, but being stuck in traffic doesn’t necessarily make the commuters appreciate the scenery more) and there is laundry to be done and homework to be supervised in the evening.


Since I’m only visiting, I don’t have to come to terms with the drudgery of daily life in paradise, only with my current inability to put aside anxiety. And every time I walk down the bluff to get to the ocean early in the morning, I am stunned by the magnificence of the view. Who wouldn’t be? That’s when I remember why I am here.


So, what’s it like to be here all the time? Do people become more relaxed? Better thinkers? Even the most beautiful setting will eventually turn into a mere backdrop for day-to-day concerns. How to retain a sense of wonder? How not to?



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