2009: The Year of Simple Pleasures

The vibe on New Year’s Eve was cautious, subdued and purposeful, not exactly conducive to the usual revelry but definitely befitting what awaits in 2009.  The cosmic teacher, taskmaster and all-around party pooper Saturn went retrograde during the day, beginning a five month stretch of revisiting and reanalyzing the soundness of the structures that support our daily lives.  His time-slowing influence permeated the party I attended. Two years ago, some 45-60 people cycled through this party. This year, the guests numbered only 15, and each of us had the task of matching a wine to an appetizer and making a presentation to the group.   Instead of the previous free-for-all at the buffet table, everyone focused attention on one dish and wine simultaneously. First we learned about each, then sampled and went back for seconds and thirds and more before proceeding en masse to the next pairing.  Time passed slowly and steadily. A communal desire for midnight (and going to sleep) hit about 11:30, and most of us resolutely stuck it out.

And then … without the hostess asking or anyone suggesting we do this, the women began quietly and methodically clearing the tables, putting away the food, preparing personal doggie bags, rinsing platters and pots, rinsing and drying four flights of wine and champagne glasses and passing cleaned items to be put away, all the while joking and laughing and telling increasingly revealing stories.  When the last pot was left to soak, it was suddenly nearly 2 AM.

Our experience was emblematic of what awaits in 2009. This is a year of sober, responsible and yet rewarding living:  Tending to the chores and details of life. Giving full attention to each task, without rushing,  enjoying what you’re doing along the way and completing things carefully so they do not have to be redone.  And, where possible, sharing tasks and responsibilities within a small group to make them go easier for all.

I’ve heard comparable stories about New Year’s Day. One friend spent the morning baking bread and reading.  Another, previously one of the world’s most accomplished carousers, welcomed his first year as a 40-year-old by rising early and cleaning his floors and rugs, doing laundry and watering his plants.

Watch for an epidemic of people behaving like grownups. What’s going on is more than acting maturely, though. It’s as if we’ve all entered residential rehab, after the huge excesses of Pluto in Sagittarius, and are regaining sanity and putting our lives back on track through clean and responsible living.  When the rest of the world is in chaos and uncertainty, there’s comfort in keeping your own house in order and indulging in simple pleasures. Details are important. God’s in them, remember.