So it's that time of the year again..isn't it? It's a time for taking stock. It's a time for introspection. A time to reflect on the direction or misdirection that our life is taking. The fact that this is the first few days of a new decade only exacerbates the sense that we must give pause and seek a place where we can contemplate.
In the course of my life, the past decade was a very eventful one to say the least. It was the decade in my life where I rediscovered poetry and began writing my own verse with the intent and purpose of publication. Between 2003 - 2007... I was published in some 50 odd venues. It was a period where I finally made it into print in reputable poetry journals. I had finally employed my affinity for poetry to some end culminating in poems that I still feel resonate with me and thankfully several editors along with a few readers to boot.
It was a decade that saw me move back (to Canada) from Europe after a brief sojourn there that had been intended to be of a more permanent nature. I realized during my time in Italy and France that I was more Canadian than Italian. I came to understand that being Italian by birth did not ensure that one was Italian by nature. I had suffered from culture shock while I was abroad and reverse culture shock when back in Canada. The move back was bound to rearrange my life just as the move to Europe in 1995 had left its irrevocable imprint on my persona.
But this decade was also fraught with tragic loss. In 2003 my mother's stroke for all intents and purposes took her away from us. Gone was the strong matriarchal figure that we, as her children, had come to love and respect for over seven decades. In her place we found a changeling – someone we were hard pressed to rediscover. A person who was unable to communicate her needs let alone her innermost thoughts. My father was hardest hit by this terrible turn of events as he had lost his life long companion. He now found himself her caretaker as she had become wheelchair bound and unable to perform the simplest of tasks.
My father's death in February of 2007 was the last in a series of events which took it's toll on my life. The brutality of his death at the hands of an errant driver while he was crossing a busy intersection on foot all but took away any motivation I had to carry on perfunctory and non-perfunctory tasks. Still, the bitter irony of this turn of events was not lost on my battered sensibilities. Here was a man who had left his home to start a new life in Canada. He had wanted something better for his four children. Then in his golden years, when his children had found their niche in Canadian society, he was determined to spend his final years in the land that had given birth to his culture. He returned to his patria in the 90's only to find himself (a decade later) alone and dying on a cold pavement in a city he had deemed he would not return to. My father had never acclimated to the cold of Canadian winters. Nonetheless, he succumbed to his injuries before he reached the ICU and died in much the same manner that he had come to this country – alone in the throes of winter - without being comforted by the family he worked so hard for.
It was a decade that saw my wife afflicted with thyroid cancer and now – thank God - cancer free. It has also been a decade of fiscal loss. The near closure of a business and livelihood that employs my wife and I due to legal litigation which fittingly never got to court as there was no basis for it in the first place. Thank God for that.
Yet here I am – limping into the second decade of a new millennium with very little fanfare and even less to show for it. However, unlike Jimmy Stewart in, "It's a Wonderful Life" – I appreciate the miracle of our existence and the series of improbable events that gets us to this point in our lives. I thank God every day for my wife and daughters. I am truly blessed. I am thankful for my talent in art and poetry. I wish that I had been a musician but realize that I have not pursued this end to its logical conclusion and thus have no one else to blame but myself.
There are challenges ahead of that I am sure. I have not published my poetry in the form of a book yet and that is another shortcoming. Mea culpa! But surely had not my train of submissions and the publishing of my poetry been derailed by personal upheaval it might be logical to assume that I should have attained this goal. There is the challenge of work shopping my poetry and reading it to an open audience to reap the benefit of instant feedback. This too is devoutly to be wished. Hopefully the workshop experience of 2009 will not be repeated. Are my expectations too high? I'll let you be the judge of that.
Here's to wishing you all much health, peace and prosperity in this new year and decade. Let us all ply this "sullen craft". Let us all write feverishly into the next ten years and damned be him or her that first cries, "Hold, enough!". May all your verse ring true.