“The more it changes, the more it stays the same”, I think while sitting in the ikea couch that T. and I bought a bit over six months ago for the apartment we’ve shared ever since, looking out at the sunny winter day that, in its stillness, closes a year of changes–for us and the world–with the peace of an Earth that regards us as fleeting as clouds. How can I say things stay the same, when the evidence of the passing of seasons is right in front of me in these windows that have seen days shorten and grow cold, trees reach the apex of their fertility only to be set ablaze by that same chemistry and now be bare souls of branches as they patiently let the winter pass? How can I say that things stay the same, when I’ve moved from one country to another, from one society to another, from one occupation to another, hell, from playing guitar to playing bass, vim to emacs, Spanish to English, not writing a lot to… writing a bit, from having given up all dreams of creation to planning novels, from longing for the woman I love to sharing with her my days, from uncertainty to stability? How can I say that things stay the same when this world has turned bitter and sour with the specter of fascism looming over it now more clearly than before, when my own country went from ousting a president who wanted reelection to laying the circus bare and letting another do the same?
I can, because as all of these phenomena surrounding me pass me by, as I grow wiser–or more foolish and jaded–with every life experience, with every selfish act revealed and amended, with every step out of harmful habits, there’s a core that reveals itself. That core can adapt to change, but shies away from direct conflict, it can take on many new adventures, but it needs to be prepared, it can deeply consume those most ineffable gems of life (the stories of others, the beauty of art created or consumed, the sublimity of music) but it needs much gestation to do so. That stays more or less the same.
It used to be, in my christian times, that I conflated new years resolutions, external goals, with addressing what I then took as distinct flaws in my personality. Writing them down, I felt the power of naming things, the elation of a moment of clarity when all the structure of chaos is illuminated as if by lightning, the pressing drive to capture that glimpse for posterity, the promise of work laid out for one to get to it and emerge, in 365 more days, a better man, free from these blemishes on the sanctorum of this body and soul which were the temple of god. I never read those journal entries again, I seldom acted on them, and even before these moments of clarity receded into the mists of time, they had taken other shapes that made me either hopeless with the realization of a fruitless pursuit, or hopeful with the delusion of a fault eradicated. As these defeats and false hopes have accrued, as the years have accumulated on my back, weighing me down and occluding my view, as the routines of life have inured me to the inexorable loss of each of the grains of sand of this dream within a dream, December thirty-firsts have lost their luster and omen and receded into the banality of the every day, saved only by the fact that as I grow old I clutch desperately to the brief moments I can share with those I love, because even if I’ve become indifferent to many things, the shadows eternal projected by the light of those who’ve illuminated my life grow bigger, creating both a beautiful contrast and a dire future that takes a more concrete shape and more inevitable reality every year. For years before, then, I’ve cared less for life but more for death.
This year, this death sentence that both galvanizes my desire to know those whom I love before is too late and, quite paradoxically, has made me indifferent to the every day, feels different: I find myself less hopeless to have created and loved before that day comes. Yet, as if to balance out this renewed hope for life, I also find myself less responsible towards those beyond my household: the routine of living and working on a city that never sleeps has been a contagion of fatigue and anger that most days makes it easy to forget to reach out to friends, to send them messages of love, to see them in person, to regale them with tokens of gratitude for their life. In Honduras, even though I was in the clutches of desperation, or perhaps even because of it, I did my best to see my friends and spend time with my family. Here, if I didn’t have the honor and joy to live with at least one of the people I love, I fear I would’ve grown completely complacent. This is what stays the same: both the ability to let myself be lulled by the slow but unstoppable waves of change and time and forget its urgency, and the sudden insight that jerks me awake before capsizing (or so I’d like to think).
What changes is the circumstance, the external pursuits and accomplishments, the shapes my demons and angels take in a particular interval, what stays the same is that which I am and urges me to see beyond this world and my demons and angels and grasp those things that go beyond time, space, good and evil: to love, to create, to become. I hope that as 2016 slips into history, and the me who I was during that year dies the death of every second, I can look back again in 365 days and realize that what stayed the same had more chances to bring good into this world, more chances to have love prevail over fear, and death.