On happy endings and new beginnings

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    Dawn Fraser Kawahara

With 2018 but a week old, we can still consider it fresh and new, even as our calendars begin to fill up with future deadlines and appointments, and leisure time plans. Old Man Time peers back over his shoulder along with the stork, and along comes the tortoise of time, moving inexorably — steadily, relentlessly.

I’ll venture to say I don’t know many people who would be dead-set against new beginnings. Think of all the fresh and new things in life that excite with their coming, especially because of all the possibilities that are presented: the newborn babe (and there came the first baby of the year born at Wilcox Hospital, proud mother and father beaming over their lively human package of all possibilities; the keiki (child) springing forth from same root stock as the Christmas tree now divested of ornaments and lights and turned to mulch; the egg with the shadow of a future chick showing when candled; the curved, pale green shoots beginning to show from olena (turmeric) roots after the end-of-the-year die-down of the sword-shaped leaves; the sliver of new moon that shows added fullness night by night; the moment you suddenly realize that you’re out of pain, after a bout of it or an injury. There are myriad examples through which your mind, Dear Reader, may already be sifting.

These thoughts of mine began forming as I prepared ingredients I needed to bake some holiday cookies to share with my favorite librarians and neighbors. They were underlined as I halved a large, buttery avocado grown by my neighbor only to find that its seed was already beginning to sprout within the delicious interior — an end and a beginning all in one, like the holiday season leading into the new year. Then, too, we’d been listening to a number of favorite CDs to set an upbeat rhythm while doing chores, and a song that stuck out and became my constant ear hum for several days was Neil Diamond’s “Believe in Happy Endings” from his original works album, “Three Chord Opera.”

“I believe in happy endings, Starry skies and dreams come true …

“I believe in new beginnings, Extra innings, brand new starts …

“All these things and happy endings, too.”

The new year came, and I read some citizens’ resolutions published as a news feature. I remarked that some of the resolutions seemed more like desires that would be put on a “bucket list,” for example, travel, wanting to travel off island to a specific destination or destinations.

Being a Word Person, I consulted my trusty Oxford American Dictionary and Thesaurus to see if I was thinking right to question what makes a resolution — particularly a New Year’s resolution — show resolve (the root word).

I was proved wrong.

If those who are resolving to travel (something I would cheer and support, since my husband and I share a passion for travel) have strong intention and are changing some former way of thinking or planning in order to make off-island travel reality, this can be a resolution. Ah-ha! “A firm mental decision or intention” is the idea. “Determined” and “decisive” are related words, along with “resolute.”

It turns out that a resolution for the New Year — or any time — doesn’t have to be about amending something that might be considered a detrimental or injurious habit, or the solving of a problem, doubt or question although that’s commonly thought. Instead, a resolution can be about taking a stand on something and sticking to it. This can be as private a resolution as you’d like it, or stated out loud and/or broadcast to a wider circle.

The most important thing that sticks out to me from this word-check exercise is that there must be the freedom of viable choice available to the individual who is making the resolution, and common sense.

It would be senseless to have someone who’s starving through no fault of their own to come out with an “eat less” resolution, or someone who is well past the point of peak physical condition and middle age to resolve to become a ballerina or football hero, both of which take extreme stamina beyond working out and talent. Just so, the persons who want to make travel a reality for themselves must have the ability to earn and save necessary funds and to schedule the time off from other commitments in addition to keeping to the longer term goal, rather than sabotaging their intention by giving in to instant gratifications.

Gosh, now I may have logicked (made-up word) and talked myself into a corner with regard to my personal New Year’s resolutions. One I’ll try for is to admit I’m wrong more often (especially to my husband). One I believe I can stick to — and I take the license of highly recommending for one and all — is to live in the moment (like that symbolic tortoise) and savor it.


Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, made her home on Kauai in the 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live with books, music and birds in Wailua Homesteads. Shared passions are travel and nature. The writer’s books may be found in local outlets and on Amazon. For further information, email tropicbirdpress@gmail.com.


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