To have a new beginning, there must be an end to the old

Blue Periods are not confined to artists. Ordinary people can have them, and December is a good time to enjoy one. It is the end of good old 2011, which was so easy to remember and write on checks. Humans have arbitrarily turned time and therefore life into a linear thing. So, after 365 days we will begin a new year, and 2011 will never return.

We think of a new year as a new beginning, and, according to a wise friend, in order to have new beginnings, you have to endure the endings. You need a neutral zone, to think, to come to terms, and even grieve a little before you can consider the future and have plans, or at least some ideas for the future.

Lately I have become disenchanted with my fifth floor apartment in Sabana Norte and think about moving. But it is a comfortable light apartment, and visitors always marvel at my views. It has lots of large windows that look out onto two volcanoes, the hillside of Heredia, twinkling lights at night on one side . . . and the new national stadium blocking the view of the mountains on the other side. And that is part of the problem. Not just the stadium, but the north/south exposure.

During the summer, the apartment is wonderfully cool on the hottest days, but on cold, windy days of our so-called green season, it is colder in my apartment than it is on the street. The other problem is that my neighbors and I become prisoners of our neighborhood whenever there is some big activity at the stadium. Not during, or just before, but for hours beforehand. It is hard to cross a street because the cars are parked bumper to bumper. A car cannot make a left turn without going blocks out of its way. The numbers on a taxi’s maria and the cost of gasoline go up and up.

Then last night, from my bedroom window (on the north side), I could see a lovely Christmas display of fireworks – high in the sky, huge balls of red and green sparkles with very little noise. They were coming from the children’s museum where a celebration was going on. How nice to not have to leave my apartment to enjoy such a sight. However, it made me wonder why red and green are the colors of Christmas. I know that Christmas trees are green (and seldom found growing indigenously in the Middle East), but how did the two colors come to be related to Christmas? Just one of the thoughts I have been pondering.

More seriously, I am, like most foreigners who have chosen to live in Costa Rica, an in-between person. I am not really a part of Tico culture, nor am I any longer a participating member of the culture I left in the United States. I am still very interested in politics and the values of both countries, and how they will play out in the future. Mainly because of language, I am intellectually more interested in the politics of the U.S. The cast of characters are always fascinating in politics. But you have to understand what they are saying.

Learning the language is probably the single most important key to becoming a participating member of a new culture. It is not simply learning nouns and verbs. All languages have nuances and idiomatic phrases and words with double meanings and slang. I certainly have not mastered these in Spanish, and probably won’t.

I realize that all through my life I have been an “in-between” person.

Obviously that has suited me. There is a certain freedom to being neither here nor there. Like Joni Mitchell sang, “I’ve looked at both sides now…..(but unfortunately) I really don’t know life at all.” That’s what I will think about, and although no great paintings will be created in my blue period, maybe a few new thoughts on what life is about will. I’m not going to worry about it, but it’s a plan. And I do believe something I told a friend — old age is running out of plans for the future.

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