“I can’t help but think I won’t still be at this job at the end of the year – which probably means I will be fired, because I’m not gonna quit unless something really crazy happens. It will probably suck, and this probably isn’t gonna be the easiest year, but it’s probably necessary in terms of transitioning from an Old World into a New World – and even if it’s hard, I’ve always known that one day I’d have to bite the bullet and get out of here. It won’t be pleasant, but maybe it’s time to just face it. I guess we’ll see…”
That was me, talking to myself just under a year ago, after I reviewed all the information available to me as a wizard and wrote this piece forecasting the character of 2013. I didn’t write it down (not that I know of, anyway – I honestly haven’t checked) and I didn’t say it out loud to anyone. It is hard to overemphasize the extent of the significance this point of reflection came to assume in the significant milestones of my life, but I never bothered to do anything to “prove” I’d even had it, because I really don’t care.
I don’t engage in this sort of behavior in order to become known as some sort of “future-teller” or “predictor.” That’s ignoble chicanery even if it’s tempting at times – Nostradamus’ writings amount to nothing more than imagery-laden gibberish and yet we all know his name centuries later).
These are my attempts to identify and analyze patterns, to interpret those patterns through the lens of the discernible currents and ways of both the planet and the cosmos, and to imperfectly distill that interpretation into a presentable general forecast for the year ahead. The point, at best, is to gain experience looking at the patterns that repeat throughout our lives, to grow in comprehension of the characteristics of common yet chaotic circumstances, and to then remain calmer and more collected in approach toward a better-understood world.
At worst, it’s a harmless delusion.
There doesn’t have to be anything mystical about it. A well-informed gambler might have guessed it, might have put the odds at least as high as one in three that I’d get fired in 2013. The last time I left a long-term job, a decade ago, I had gotten a strong sense a couple of months before it happened that my time was up. I’d seen it in other people before – you’d look at them and know it was over for them, and they’d quit or be fired within a month or two. Now it was happening to me. I began to envision the events at the place without myself in the picture. The sensation had been fully accurate. By the end of 2012, for the first time since, I had gotten that feeling again, and I knew exactly what it was. My time was up. It’d be up to others to hold down the fort from no on. I was heading off down the Path.
Did that fatalistic feeling creep into my forecast? Well, I’m sure a little bit. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I wrote about a number of other things that, ultimately, are sufficiently common phenomena as to be pretty easy to guess. I speculated that the structures of what I think of as my world were on fire, and though from the ashes new life will form, but that while the fire burned, I was unlikely to avoid getting burned. That definitely happen – though we have yet to see any concrete signs of the promised new life to come.
“There are still so many weaknesses that have the potential to blow the whole thing. There is blight and rot across the land, and a positive financial state of affairs is far from guaranteed. If we are unable to recognize futility when it rears its head, we’ll be like the aging boxer whose boxing-induced brain damage convinces him he’ll win if he gets out there just one last time. Have the presence of mind to know when a path is turning into a dead end […]
Even to me, the forecast still sounds rather dangerous, but as a planet passes through different sectors of space in its journey around its sun, so do we collectively and involuntarily move along a larger track. In our current time, our track has truly taken us outside of the worst of the danger, even if the world appears to be falling apart around us. The assurance is that, even if the lingering difficulties wear us down to our meanest and defiant–if impotent–stand, the emerging earth of the new world is rising beneath us to meet us all this time. Good fortune marks the result, with material gain and increased popularity born of that inevitable moment when our feet touch that virgin ground.
It’s looking to be a very interesting year, perhaps not a particularly easy year, and probably–though this is itself a fate-tempting thing to say in writing–a good year.”
I have no idea if I succeeded at crafting a forecast that could apply broadly to all of you readers. I honestly don’t even know if that’s something that’s possible for me to do. All I know is, it proved pretty damn accurate as far as I’m personally concerned.
So what if everything described is an example of common, if unpleasant, life experience? The entire point of this exercise is to familiarize ourselves with, well, exactly those common life experiences.
I would not describe it as having been a good year. Other than that, the rest of it was right. You want to talk about “blight and rot across the land”? I had to deal with very important people dying. I had to deal with both of my right hand men – my brother and my buddy – moving away to far-off lands. I got myself shit-canned, broke, and hanging on by a string. I even had to go and help euthanize the family dog a couple weeks ago. Eff all of that.
So what if all of that is an example of common, if unpleasant, life experience? The entire point of this exercise is to familiarize ourselves with, well, exactly those common life experiences, to be mindful of their existence and aware of precisely what is possible.
It was stupid to begin with to attribute a characteristic like “good” to the upcoming year. No year is wholly good or wholly bad (except for 2008 – fuck that year), but is rather a jumbled mixture of elements of both. After all, the positive aspects described in the forecast were also true. “Could be the year we taste true freedom”? Though the job loss has been devastating and catastrophic for me and those closest to me, in a broader sense I have never felt more relieved. Not a single day has gone by since mid-July that I haven’t been thankful that I never have to enter that place again. Not a single day, not even the darkest of them.
New world? Well, for starters there’s my departure from…that place. I had some fantastic times and made some lifelong memories with my family – my brother and sister and parents and my queen and my two little boys. I’m lucky as hell for every single one of them. Without their unflagging moral support and herculean assistance in every possible way, I would have been completely crushed out instead of merely worn down.
New world? Well, I conceived a child with my beloved queen – another son expected to join us all at the party in early March.
New world? I’ve written more in the last year than any year of my life, and in my own estimation it’s some of the best quality I’ve written in years, perhaps ever. The practice is making me better. There are concrete results. We examined exactly half of the ancient I Ching in our Days of Change series. That’s kind of a big deal. (We’ll do the second half in ’14.) I self-published a fun little e-book of poetry.
My first big-time feature was accepted for print publication – watch for the winter issue of Jacobin Magazine due out next month. On top of all that, I wrote a novel (you’ll know more soon).
New world: as of this writing, I’m still in limbo in many ways. But ultimately, until I receive information indicating the contrary, I expect my employment position will stabilize long before we arrive at the next solstice in June. New job, new family member, new writing endeavors, new projects – the new world is starting to take form before my eyes, and I kinda like what I am seeing.
I’ll report firsthand, not merely as a wizard but just as a dude, going into a new year with even a wholly made up idea of what to expect effectively provides your mind with a trigger to remain aware of the year’s character and the patterns of circumstance, consequence, and fate.
Accordingly, let’s clap for what we’ve been given, let’s clap for what we’ve done, and let’s clap, perhaps most of all, that it’s over and we get to start a new one.