The world only exists in your eyes…your conception of it. You can make it as big or as small as you want to. — F. Scott Fitzgerald
That came to mind as I turned the page from October to November. I’d not only thought ‘full stop,’ I’d felt it. I felt the internal impact of the first day of November. Obviously, I felt it enough to murmur, ‘full stop.’
Smiling to myself, I realized I’d been wondering what’s up with the ‘full stop’ trend among news commentators. Sometimes, they’re inserting the words ‘full stop’ at the end of a sentence. I get that it means ‘period.’ Apparently, though, its current use (my guess) is for emphasis on the import of the subject at hand. Like maybe, double period.
So, why am I noticing it now; and why is it bothering me? I admit it grabs your attention. ‘Full stop’ sounds more impressive in an on-air news account than to verbally add ‘period’ at the end of the sentence. So I get that, too. But, I think there’s more here . . . like maybe the political climate demands an extra stop … because every day there’s another double whammy coming at us.
Well, the definition from the free dictionary.com notes that a full stop is: 1. A period indicating the end of a sentence. 2. A complete halt, as one made by a motor vehicle.
The complete halt, I presume, is the effect the news commentators are going for. It’s amazing that in these chaotic times, news is coming so fast and furious we need a ‘full stop’ moment to digest it before moving on to the next story. Obviously, I’m addicted to the idea already, if on November 1, 2017, I caught myself thinking, ‘full stop.’ Yikes. Is my life so chaotic that I need full stop moments? Maybe so.
In my case, I’d guess it’s the idea of a sudden shift that provoked my calendar flipping reaction, my coming to a complete halt. On November 1, everything seems to shift, suddenly. Fall shifts to winter: Fullstop. The gales of November are upon us: Full Stop.
Gales, of course, can be a metaphor for the latest daily/weekly news/weather/political crisis. It’s a full year now from the November 2016 election: FULL STOP. November 1, the state of politics is churning: ‘Full stop.’ Ah, but then the Virginia resistance shows up at the polls on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. The Dems take it: Full stop.
Along with the gales, I believe, come gifts. If you look for them, you find — among the gales — great gifts: gifts of grit, gratitude, grace, and … gumption.
Among the gales, you somehow gain the grit to carry on. You’re given the gratitude to appreciate what you have, the grace to accept the changing seasons and all they bring, and the gumption to hope in the future. You succumb to the changes, and as John Muir says, The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
November 1. The World Series is over; the Astros win: Full stop. Justin Verlander and Kate Upton tie the knot at last — in Italy: Full stop. Verlander fans enjoy the great headlines for a former Tiger celeb. They muster the grace to cheer for Houston and wait for Detroit to rebound in the spring. In more ways than one, it’s a ‘whole new ballgame’: Full stop.
November 1. Halloween’s over. The inward journey begins as daylight lessens and darkness beckons. Daylight Savings — I need more sleep: Full stop. I need to take more time to be me, and especially – the season of All Saints Day — to remember my family, my ancestors, my friends, my relationships that got me to where I am.
November 1. We turn up the heat, get out the woolens; we steel ourselves for the wintry weeks to come. Snowbirds take flight for a warmer climate. Wait a minute. Someone says there’s no such thing as climate change. What? We’re the only country on the planet to NOT sign the Paris Accord? This, too, shall pass. Big smile: Full stop.
Thus, the grit to carry on, and plod these darker days—as Muir’s autumn winds buffet us. We allow our gales to carry us onward, over the river and through the woods. Thoughts turn to gratitude, as is the custom. We give thanks for what is precious in our lives. Wherever we are, in a way, in November we’re at ‘Grandma’s house’ giving thanks.
Last November we were celebrating Thanksgiving in Port St. Lucie, FL. far from home – just the two of us. The picture seemed strange and surreal, but wonderfully relaxing, enjoying a delicious meal among breezy palms at a lovely outdoor-restaurant venue. The election was over, thank goodness: Full stop.
While dining, I was gazing all around me, reflecting. The world seemed to be whirring along normally enough. I was relishing the diversity of the folks out on the restaurant patio — an Italian family at one table, a Chinese couple at another. Rather than selfies, we exchanged mutual phone pic shoots with them for future memories. It was a beautiful afternoon.
That week, I remember being thankful for time spent with my husband’s brother and wife, preparing dad’s home for sale, going through photos and treasures together, deciding what to bring home and what to leave behind. There was no need to strive toward the future so much, just to enjoy the moments of the day.
I’m not always in that mode, but I do strive for it. You know how amazing it is, when you don’t have something you take for granted – both things big and things little.
Things big: November 1, 1957 – 60 years ago – The Mackinac Bridge opened – forever linking Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Imagine not having that there. I did experience that as a child, taking the ferry across the Straits of Mackinaw. Wow, I must have been 14 when the bridge opened. Now we take that beautiful highway across the straits for granted. Now we wonder how many more years will it last?
Some of us have fond memories of walking across the Mighty Mac on the amazing Labor Day Weekend annual trek. Even that may become memories of gratitude only, if the powers that be determine the risks of terrorism outweigh the benefits to the state’s tourist industry.
Things little: November 1, 2017. It doesn’t take much sometimes to make our day. There are little things you miss if you don’t have them. Like a hot cup of coffee on a crisp evening out, or pepper always in the pepper shaker. A recent stopover for supper at a local eatery brought those two simple things to mind. You always assume hot coffee; and when you grab the pepper shaker, it has pepper in it. Not this time, so I – who never likes to make a fuss about little things at restaurants – found myself prompted to do just that. (In a nice way, of course.) The waitress was a bit incredulous; and we had a good laugh.
Things big and little: November 1, 2017, I spill a little tea on my laptop, creating a thing big. The keyboard is toast. I’m doomed: Fullstop. It’s off to the repair shop for a week; and I’m feeling way behind. While also feeling sorry for myself, I discover that this summer marked the 200th birthday of Henry David Thoreau. I read this quote: I am grateful for what I am and have. My Thanksgiving is perpetual.
Perpetual Thanksgiving…how do I manage the grace to do that? Taking a clue from Walden’s Pond, I can intend to be grateful every day, wherever I am in my own pond, in my personal sphere.
November 1, 2017, I’m thinking about my father-in-law. I realize that one hundred years after Thoreau was born, my father-in-law Joe Parcheta arrived (February 21, 1917) on the planet. One hundred years and six months later on Sept. 7, 2017 he left it. No doubt, this is the main reason I felt the impact of the first day of November. It’s taken me two months to even begin to embrace this lifetime shift.
November 1, 2017. The holiday season is upon us; our last remaining parent is gone; the home in Florida is sold at last; an odyssey ended. Or, as my husband’s Aunt Lucille put it, “another chapter ends.” So true. A new chapter must be written soon: Full stop.
November 1, 2017. For the family, All Saints Day is especially poignant this year… as we traditionally honor our ancestors, those who came before us, those who’ve shaped our lives. I’ve made the connection in previous writing about my father-in-law and his generation, the generation that brought us John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert. While they were in different spheres, they were of the same era. They came of age in World War II. President Kennedy died on a day in November, a day like none other, for those of us who believed the following words: The problems of this world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.
It’s interesting to imagine John Kennedy alive and well, celebrating his 100th Thanksgiving. He’d be alongside our nonagenarian WWII Veteran former presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and Jimmy Carter. How might our world – our politics – be different today?
My father-in-law was a lifelong Republican. In the last couple of years of independent living, and finally assisted living, there was little time to think about politics or even to follow his Detroit Tigers or New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. He’d begun to turn inward, toward mere survival. Yet always, he seemed to exude a certain grace that people would comment on, whether the old neighbors, golf and shuffleboard buddies in Florida or the caregivers up here. I think about the things he navigated during those months and that grace during the final days. I pray I may one day have that grace.
Thanksgiving this year, I’m reflecting again, but sharing in Thanksgiving notes. Notes must be sent to all the wonderful souls and earth angels who loved my husband’s dad and assisted during this journey of letting go.
My signature word for 2017 was hope. “Men [and women] who can dream of things that never were” takes gumption. That kind of gumption implies hope: Full stop. Flipping the calendar this year to November 1, I dared to hope anew. I hear there’s talk of the ‘spirit of the 1960s’ rising. Are we coming full circle? Might the November 7 Virginia election results signal a nudge to another cultural shift?
“These are not normal times we are witnessing,” said a news commentator the other day, as I was finishing my thoughts. That reminded me of the first thing a mentor of mine told me, a decade ago, when I was in the throes of another huge chapter and life change. “Normal,” he said, “is a pretty small box.” I guess he was right.
From my vantage point in life, I’d have thought we’d be so much farther along in our evolving since the decade of the 1960s. After the lessons of riots and wars, I’d imagined we’d at least be back on the moon, or on to Mars — at least metaphorically, making giant leaps for mankind. And we’d definitely have created a more peaceful world on our fragile Big Blue Marble. But these are not normal times we are witnessing, where progress can move along on all fronts. In these times, I concede, the war front comes FULL STOP to our own doorstep.
Who’d have thought we’d have to pull out all the full stops — for renewed intention for a safe, peaceful planet in 2017? So, I do hope that spirit of the 1960s might rise again. We who lived through those times must remember and be that spirit once more. The world, as I see it, exists with big and little things – no matter what aspect of normal. In that sphere, there must always be hope.
There’s been so much letting go this year, but never of hope: FULL STOP.