Monday, January 01, 2018

we shall never be younger

There is something about Cole Porter.

His lyrics are not simply words to accompany music. They are poetry. He had a knack for capturing the human condition in just a few words.

There are plenty of mawkish sentimental songs that clutter the bridge from new year's eve to new year's day. Porter would have none of it.

Even though "We Shall Never be Younger" was not written as a new year's song, what could more realistically sum up the transition from one year to the next than: "We shall never be younger/soon the spring will tire singing her song."

New year celebrations in Mexico are what a lawyer (at least, this lawyer) would call sui generis -- a thing unto itself. I have celebrated the day in several countries around the world. But Mexico has its own unique take on the day. At least, in our villages.

The evening started traditionally enough -- at Papa Gallo's, one of my favorite beach restaurants in San Patricio. All the bones of a great evening were present. Charming people. Interesting conversation. Good food. Classy gold, black, and white decorations. I could have been at the Copacabana. If it had not closed 25 years ago.

Most of these holidays at Papa Gallo's are celebrated by tables of northerners. Not last night. The revelers were primarily Mexican, and most of them did not start showing up until after 10.

The reason was obvious. They were there to celebrate turning over the earth's odometer from 2017 to 2018.

This is the first year I celebrated new year's on the beach in Mexico. And I am glad I did.

Our beach came alive. Not only because of all of the people on the sand, but because of what they were doing. Throwing firecrackers. Lighting bonfires. Releasing small hot air balloons (with candles supplying the lift) into the air. When released, they looked like lost souls migrating out to sea on strong air currents.

And fireworks. Just like at Disneyland. And just as many.

Well, they were not quite like Disneyland. They were like Disneyland without any of the anal retentive planning.

The fireworks came from every section of the beach. Some were sponsored by businesses. Others were fired off by individuals who had brought their own show with them.

The combination of the fires, firecrackers, lit-up balloons, and fireworks made the beach look not so much a celebration, but a re-enactment of the bombing of Baghdad. That may be because all of the light was accompanied by bursts from automatic weapons. It was far more awe than shock.

But the night was not over. I hooked up with a group of Mexican friends who took me to a local dance club. Even though it was well past midnight, the place was loud, but almost empty -- and it did not start filling up for another two hours.

When I finally made my way home, I was temporarily deaf from the music. Remember those good old days of rock concerts where you could not hear annoying voices for a day or two? Well, I managed to re-live a bit of my misspent 20s.

We always hope that if we have a real good time on 1 January, it will somehow rub off on the rest of the year. It won't.

No matter how hard we party and lie to one another, 2018 is going to have its share of disappointments, losses, and deaths when we will reminded ourselves of Plato's injunction to "Embrace your losses as fair payment for the surplus of being alive."

But there will also be joy, accomplishments, and, if we are lucky, moments of grace and even love.

2018 is going to be just like 2017. With one big exception. We shall never be younger. And that is why we will seek the contentment that each moments offers us.

Happy new year to each of you. 

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