Last Day of the Year
Originally posted on December 31, 2015
Human beings have a need to mark the passage of time. In spite of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and the consequent proof that time is not an absolute, for those of us on earth, living at earth-pace, the passing of time is inexorable. New Year’s Eve, with all its festivity — the fireworks, the ball dropping, the parties — is a grand way to mark the passing of the last year.
December 31st is a special day in my personal story. That was the day I first knew that I was in an actual relationship with my husband-to-be.
We had been dating for about nine months at that time, making the gestational period of our incipient relationship the same as that of a human infant.He lived in NYC; I was there visiting my dear friend. We had tickets to the Lotus club — the only New Year’s that I have celebrated in the utter madness of Times Square. I was wearing a backless gold dress, borrowed from my friend. Earlier that day, I had fallen down a flight of stairs and sprained my ankle, and I had zipped up my boot, determined that the sprain would in no way prevent me from dancing the night away. I do not know if it was the golden dress, or the zipped up determination to have a good time, or all of the champagne. But by the time he stole a long-stemmed rose and presented it to me with a flourish, the magic had simmered, and the night, in addition to being the last night of the year, had become the first night of Us.
After 2 weeks of missing my regular blog posts, I feel I should explain.
I’ve decided to take my writing in a new direction. When I look at the big picture of mental health in the world today, I admit we have made a lot of progress. It is recognized that mental illness is also a physical illness, with physical causes and symptoms. Those suffering from mental illnesses have many options to turn to, including medicine and therapy. Not quite enough, but way more than available even a few years ago.
I’m glad that we are finding ways to help patients and manage suffering. But those suffering are not just patients; they are also people. Each of them has a story to be told. And I believe it is only by telling these stories, by coming out of the mental health closet, that we will be able to destigmatize mental illness. Yes, quite a few celebrities have started talking openly about their own mental illnesses. But, with few exceptions, the story of the everyday person frequently goes untold.
I’ve written my own story on this blog; now I want to write the stories of others. And I believe these stories ought to be widely read, so I’ll attempt to place them in publications with a greater readership than my blog. Such publications, however, require previously unpublished material. So I’ll be putting this blog on hiatus for a while. Eventually, after the stories are accepted or rejected, I’ll end up sharing them here – so please keep watching this space.
In addition, dear reader, if you want to give us the gift of your story, please contact me. I will want to interview you over the phone. Well, it’ll really be more of a chat, but you get the point. You can choose to remain anonymous, or to use the story to come out to the people you know. Help us tell the world — it could be someone you love.
If you celebrate it, an upcoming very Merry Christmas to you!
Come December each year, and ballet troupes across this country stage performances of the holiday favorite, Nutcracker. For many Americans, this is their first, and possibly only, encounter with ballet. I think that is a great pity. The Nutcracker, dare I say, is one of the worst examples of this exquisite dance form. I have seen it performed by Chicago’s Joffrey and Moscow’s Kirov — some of the best dancers in the world — and failed to be impressed.
I have loved the ballet since the age of 4. That is when the Royal Bolshoi Ballet came from Russia to Calcutta, and my father stood in line all night long to purchase tickets to the Swan Lake. I remember being mesmerized by the slender forms, dressed like the fairies of my imagination, floating with ethereal grace across the stage. That feeling never quite left me. To this day, Swan Lake remains my favorite classical ballet.
I suspect that a lot of Calcuttans’ obsession with ballet date from that week. Indeed, I did not have another opportunity to go to the ballet for the next 16 years.