I just got home from celebrating Noche Buena at my parents. Noche Buena, the Good Night, is when we Cubans generally celebrate the Christmas holiday. Sitting here catching up on online crap, I came upon my beloved Patti Smith's blog. Her entry caught my attention. It's been a tough year for most and Patti, as usual, has a wonderful way of putting things in perspective. I shall reprint her entry here. These words are hers, not mine, and reprinted with no permission. I doubt she would mind.
DECEMBER 24, 2008
YEAR OF THE OX
Early this morning I read the news concerning Mr. Thierry Magon de la Villehuche, the prominent hedge fund manager who committed suicide in the wake of the Bernard Madoff financial scandal. By all accounts Mr. Villehuche was a man devoted to the firm that fell victim to Madoff's so called Ponzi scheme. Having lost $1.4 billion and perhaps realizing he could not recover the money, Mr. V. took his own life, as some kind of self-retribution. Unable to face the trusting clients he had unwontedly ruined, he sat at his desk, opened his wrists with box cutters, and said farewell to the world.
And the color of money runs red.
It is pouring rain and I have just returned to my desk after making my morning cup of Nespresso. I make it on my wonderful machine pictured here. I love this little machine. I love how it sits like a cat or a tiny monk waiting for me to say good morning.
And it is always ready to serve a nice cup of espresso, George Clooney style. Well I can't drink it full strength, so I use a bigger cup with extra hot water. Mine is a very pretty cup. Indigo and gold scrollwork hand painted on the translucent skin of Sevres porcelain. A cup such as this is not a necessity but a wonderful thing.
Today as I drink I can't help but wonder what kind of cup Mr. V used. As he was French perhaps it was a nice white Limoges. Distinctive yet plain. Of course I made that up. I know nothing of the man, save his terrible end like a sad Russian novel. And the very simple fact that he will never drink coffee again.
How wonderful it is to be alive. So many people fighting to live. So many who won't make it. Not another Christmas. Not another cup of coffee.
What is the point of this missive? Perhaps nothing but a moment of reflection and an opportunity to wish the reader well. And since it is the center of the holidays I raise my cup and wish you all the best. Hard times are undoubtedly ahead but may we all face them with good humor, flexibility and resolve.
As we move into a new year we also move into the Chinese year of the ox. The ox is the sign of fortitude and hard work. Nothing will come easy; no quick returns, no fast cash, no high profile investing, no great losses. Prosperity through work. Work that strengthens the heart.
We can do that. Be oxen.
The other day I found an old letter I wrote in 1970 in Paris in a book of Blaise Cendrars poems. I was reporting with shock that coffee had gone up to 40 cents. Now it can cost up to 4 Euros. Nearly six dollars. But we must have our coffee...
And well, its only money.
I wish you all the very best in the coming year. I've a feeling we're all gonna need all the good wishes we can get. The powers that be and world events have put us in very unfavorable positions. I pray these are times we can learn from. Happy holidays no matter how or what holiday you choose to celebrate. Take care of yourselves and each other in the coming year. Most importantly, remember to value the things that truly do have value.