“Happy New Year, Aussie. How’re you feeling?”

“I got covid.”

I have covid, Aussie, you don’t. You look just fine.”

“I may as well have covid, for all the walks I go on. This entire week has been one big nightmare. Few walks, few rides, and nobody’s awake in this house.”

“That’s because I infected Lori with covid, too, Auss, so both of us are in our separate rooms taking care of ourselves.”


“Do you have any resolutions for 2023, Aussie?”

“I have a resolution to go for a long walk every day.”

“My resolution is to take care of myself.”

“Enough already with taking care of yourself!”

“Why, Aussie?”

“Because that’s how you know people are old, they always talk about taking care of themselves.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“There are other things to do in this life.”

“Like what, Auss?”

“You could go to outer space in 2023.”

“Why would I want to do that?”

“There, you see? I told you you’re old. Who says no to going to outer space?”

“All the people who can’t afford to pay Jeff Bezos millions of dollars for a ticket, that’s who, Aussie.”

“You can order a trip to outer space on Amazon? YOU’RE NOT SHOPPING FOR IT IN LOCAL STORES?”

“I’m not shopping for a trip to outer space in any store, Aussie. The body goes through a lot of pressure as it leaves the earth and I want to take—”

“—care of myself, I know. Deadliest words I’ve ever heard. The minute you start talking like that, you got one paw in the grave.”

“Aussie, I think you and I mean different things by taking care of myself.”

“I know what you mean: a sensible diet, vitamins and minerals, exercise, and lots of sleep. [Yawn] Wake me up when the year’s over.”

“Actually, Auss, it means different things than that for me. When I take care of myself, I do things a little slower and with more focus. I don’t change what I do—still involved in teaching and working with the Zen Peacemaker Order, working out a bearing witness retreat in Brazil—”

“—Am I going?”

“Still writing, still supporting undocumented families in the area. But I do things differently now. I take more time to do them, so the results of my actions become clearer, both for others and for me. I don’t push myself as much as I used to, don’t get as confused. Things have their place, and I put them in their place. Things have their time, and that’s the time I deal with them.”

“This is the most inspiring thing I’ve ever heard.”

“I try to let the flow carry me, rather than depend again and again on my own arms and legs to do the heavy lifting. I fight less as I encounter resistance; instead, I either find an easy way around the barrier or I let it go. If it’s meant to get done, it’ll get done.”

“This is going to be the most boring year I’ve ever spent with you, not that the others have been scintillating.”

“I don’t argue politics, Aussie.”

“Not even Donald’s return to the White House?”

“Other than to say that I don’t see him back there, no.”

“Then what kind of life are we going to have together? No arguing, no jumping over barriers, no clearing hurdles, no messes in the house. Can I at least kill a squirrel or two? Five chipmunks?”

“Aussie, taking care of myself means having a healthy relationship with everything because it’s all me.”

“I’m also you, so how about my walks?”

“They’ll get longer as I get healthier, Aussie. It’s the dark end of year, just before we ease ourselves into a new beginning. Your walks will come back, your deer chases will come back, especially now that hunting season is finally over. I wish you a happy, invigorated year with lots of play time with Henry at home and with your friends, Evi the Mountain Cur and Percy the Golden, lots of barking at people and animals on the road above the house, lots of snarling at Mackin oil truck and delivery people. In short, a year of adventure, Aussie!”

“And I wish you many hours of sleep at night and not a few during the day, lots of dressing on your spinach and lemon in your tea, lot of brushing of your dentures—”

“I don’t wear dentures, Aussie.”

“Lots of dozing over a book and lots of TV episodes that you’ll watch again and again because you won’t remember what the last episode was about. In sort, I wish you a peaceful, restful, BORING year. Wake me up when it’s over.”

To all of you, too, I wish you a happy new year. May you and the world give and receive the care you need. May you receive the attention—also known as love—that you need. May your heart not hide in shadows but bring light to everyone and everything in the universe.

“Aussie, what do you wish everyone for the New Year?”

“Johnson Family’s Braided Elk Hide Treats, the long ones. All-Natural, Organic Lamb and Vegetable Mix hold the vegetables, and Jazzy Snazzy Wag Tuna Bites, Crunchy. With those goodies you’ll be set up for 2023 (though it’ll be very boring).”

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