Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's thoughts

It was the Totalfeckineejit’s idea to light a candle at noon on New Year’s Day, and to make a list of the people we’re thinking of.

And since I’m spending this Jan 1 on my own, just me and the cats, I’m pretty sure not to see anybody at all but only to think of them.
I might see the bus driver. There will be a bus driver; and people like her (or him, more likely; it’s usually guys on holidays) who work when everybody else is taking the day off are worthy of some thought. And thanks. And extra pay. This driver gets to spend hours and hours driving around town in a nearly empty bus, probably nobody to talk to. To her, it might not seem worth it. All that gas just to take one person across town. But those of us who want to get across town and don’t have a car to do it in and don’t have legs that will take us so far in this windy cold; we’re very grateful that the bus driver is on the job.
So I’m thinking of the bus driver, and when I see one, I’ll be sure to pause and say hello and Happy New Year and Bonne Année.

I’m thinking of my family, wondering what they’re up to on this January day. I hope my parents will be in good health for 2010, after some bumps and rattles in 2008-9. They’re not as young as they used to be (hey, when they were my age I thought they were old, this is all so relative), but they’re in good shape. They pay attention, and they get around.
I hope my brothers and my sister-in-law and my nieces have a happy and prosperous year. Life can be so unstable, and the crisis has certainly taken its toll. The kids are getting on in school - this year I should start writing to them directly instead of through their mom. I only see them once in two years or so, and it takes an effort to keep ties.

Then I’m thinking of Paul Theroux. The traveler. I just finished his ‘Ghost Train to the Eastern Star’, and marveled at his ease in meeting people. Everywhere he goes, he says hello. Looks people up. Gets to know the person next to him on the train or the bus or the plane or just hanging around.
When I travel, often alone, as he is, I notice a lot of things and I walk all around town and around the countryside, and I prefer the train from point to point, to see what’s in between. But I rarely meet people. I tend to stay in my bubble, isolated. I don’t like to talk to strangers, and when I make an effort, it usually fizzles out in a few minutes. I was thinking of that while waiting for the bus home from grocery shopping on Saturday, loaded with cat litter. The other woman waiting wanted to chat, and I tried but, honestly, I just wasn’t interested. I couldn’t think of any next thing to say, beyond turning her own questions around. And what do you do...? Have you lived here for long...? See your family for Christmas...?
So I continue to think about Paul Theroux, and to wonder how he does it, and if maybe with practice I could do that too. For the past couple of years, I’ve been trying. When I travel I try to be more accessible to people, to say more than just hello, and I’ll have the chicken. I’ve been mindful of taking pictures with people in them. Usually I target landscapes and city details, and wait for passersby to get out of the way. So I’ve been trying to add a little more humanity to my photographs - why photograph just the buildings of a town? The people make the town...!

Click on over to TFE's blog to see others raising a glass and lighting a candle and having a thought.
Happy 2010 to one and all!


steven said...

nanu! i love paul theroux's writing and certainly in my own life i love to talk to just about anyone. a simple comment begins a simple thread and suddenly glimmers of colour emerge. people are filled with stories and they're always intriguing because they're not your own!!!! thanks for thinking of the bus driver. between my bike, my feet and buses i'm more-or-less stranded. so i'm thinking of them all!!!! steven

Barry said...

Here's to all the bus drivers out there, and the store clerks and theatre workers and pharmacists and hospital workers and all the other people who work and allow life to go on while we rest and play.

Enjoy your peaceful New Years Nancy and I'm looking forward to seeing more people in your pictures in 2010!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Thanks for this NanU and three cheers for the likes of the bus driver who often do thankless tasks.And by coincidence I was almost going to mention in the brief to think of famous people too if you like, they are still people after all.Hope your folks stay well and Happy New Year again, NanU!

Moira said...

Thank you for popping by my blog, I love the pic of your pussy cat!

NanU said...

Did I get on the wrong bus?
The meme was thinking of people
-who are no longer with us-. Every one of those on my list is alive and well. Happily so!
I'll do the meme properly soon.

Melli said...

I never heard of lighting a candle on New Year's Day ... that's a wonderful idea... for ANY day actually. And I do LOVE that you thought of the bus drivers. How sweet! I would choose to think of the rescue workers I guess - but that's not totally random, since my daughter is an EMT. Randomly I usually choose to pray for the hungry, the sick and of course, our politicians.

Oh! I just read your comments and see that this was supposed to be a meme... and a memorial meme at that! LOL! That's okay - I like the way you did it!

Thanks for stopping in! Have a great day!

Niamh B said...

Tis an interesting point about trying to be more outgoing, drawing people out more - maybe you could resolve to have one conversation with a stranger per week, and find out at least 3 interesting things about them to put up on your blog... Now that'd be a challenge!

Reya Mellicker said...

Well. Paul Theroux must certainly be an extrovert. Like you I enjoy people watching when I travel, but I don't easily engage with strangers unless it's clear we have something in common.

I missed the candle lighting yesterday so I'll light one today instead.

Happy new year!