And then, a new year

New Year’s Eve was slightly different this year, or rather my last activities of the day made it different. I spent about an hour taking pictures at 158 Main as the crew prepared the dining room to serve 2013’s last, and absolutely booked dinner.

The atmosphere reminded me of working as a theater properties master, years ago, especially during the last few days before opening night. Everyone was tired, yet on task and exhilarated somehow. Everything is coming together. There is much satisfaction in this. Last night felt similar, but it also provided a new explanation for that unique feeling of giddiness that comes with this sort of labor.

The task at hand does not matter; all that is required is a common goal, a sense of being part of a team and a sense of accomplishment as everything painstakingly falls into place. Everyone plays a part. Everyone feels useful.

This seems to be a recurring theme for me lately, this being useful. I am beginning to understand that this sense of contributing something is perhaps the most important ingredient against despair. I could find plenty of reasons for despair, especially just 48 hours away from the anniversary of Roderick’s passing, but again and again I realize that I am uplifted, as if by a floating device, every time I happen to do something that makes me feel useful.

We gain new awareness in such moments; the sort of awareness that reminds us that our input has value. It gives purpose. Purpose, then, is not a goal to attain, but rather a state of being. It demands action. More than this, it demands action that involves others as well.

I saw this on the smiling faces of the restaurant crew last night, while I walked about the dining room with my camera. They were tired, but working as one and having fun. From chef to dish washer to waitress to dining room manager, they were all equals in their endeavor. This sense of belonging is important too. It is not something one develops; it emerges on its own when we abandon ourselves to the dynamics of the moment, playing exactly the part we are supposed to play.

When I sat down to write this article, I thought I would simply mention my usual New Year’s Eve activities and see what string of thought that might bring along. Now I see that I received a gift last night. I was reminded that I am a part of something. I am not insignificant.

Yesterday began with my usual routine of doing a first Facebook post for all my accounts before I make coffee and consider the day has formally begun. For 158 Main, I found a few odd facts about New Year’s Eve customs, including a belief that the coming year will be lucky if a tall, dark-haired man happens to be within sight on New Year’s Eve.

Something I remembered this morning made me laugh. Just before I left the restaurant after my photo shoot, I gave chef Jack a quick hug and we wished each other a good new year. He is a tall, dark-haired guy. The universe has a good sense of humor and this New Year’s Eve has been my Christmas.

Slàinte!

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