Those are the final lines of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Zaphod and his pals are zooming off for a snack and another adventure.
Welcome to the end of 2019, the year of Hitchhiker's. It has been a challenging 365 days. Started out really well--two weeks at Walt Disney World. Sun. Warmth. Mickey Mouse. Buzz Lightyear. Expedition Everest. And my kids, so happy and relaxed. It was one of the best times we've had as a family. Then, the rest of the year. Being named Poet Laureate again. Loss of a job. New job. Graduation of my daughter. My son heading into middle school. Mental illness struggles. Addiction struggles. Money problems. This year has been all over the place. Highs. Lows. Joys. Sorrows.
I don't want to blame Zaphod Beeblebrox and his friends for the challenges I've faced. That would be irrational. However, trying to relate to a novel that is primarily farce has been difficult at times. If you haven't noticed, I'm a pretty serious guy most of the time. Sure, I know how to have a good time. However, this year hasn't offered a whole lot of laughs for me. So, trying to relate to a crew of aliens on a spaceship fueled by improbability hasn't been easy. No wonder Marvin, the chronically depressed robot, is my favorite character in the book.
And now, a celebration for the conclusion of the second decade of the 21st century. Tomorrow, we will be in the '20s. The Roaring Twenties. Certainly, at the beginning of a new year, there's always hope for something better. Possibility. As most of you know, I'm not a big fan of change. It's not exciting. Not an adventure. In my experience, all change means is a lot of heartache and work. I'm more of a status quo kind of person. However, when the status quo is untenable, something has to shift.
So, I am hoping for good things in 2020. More happiness. Peace. Love. Joy.
Which brings me to the announcement of the book I have chosen for the upcoming year. There have been a lot of contenders. I've considered Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez. Up until tonight, I couldn't decide. Then, it came to me. Literally. The book fell off the shelf, and I realized that I had been led to it for almost three months.
You see, I have been reading a book by a Jesuit priest. James Martin. It's titled My Life with the Saints. It is about Father Martin's explorations of the lives of various Catholic holy women and men. I was drawn immediately to the chapter about a Trappist monk/writer/mystic from the Abbey of Gethsemani in the hills of Kentucky. The man was deeply intellectual and deeply spiritual. He struggled with his humanity, having more than a little ego. He liked being in the limelight. In short, he was a guy I can relate to. A poet who was mentioned by Pope Francis in his address before a joint session of Congress as an exemplar of American Catholicism.
And the memoir this man wrote about his spiritual conversion is considered a classic. One of the most influential religious works of the 20th century. It's grounded in failure. Reaches toward the cosmos.
The book I have chosen to write about for the next year is The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. This choice excites me. Makes me anxious for the new year to start.
Tonight, I will eat homemade pizza. Play games with my family. Eat a lot of snacks. Enjoy the waning minutes of 2019. Celebrate the first minutes of 2020. Say goodbye to Douglas Adams. Hello to Thomas Merton.
Count down with Saint Marty: Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . .