Here it comes again — a new year, a clean slate, a fresh start with new opportunities. No matter how we celebrate the coming of the New Year, with a boom and a bang or a whisper and a shout, with gunshots or fireworks bursting in air, with church bells pealing or drums beating, with sirens or party horns, we do so with the anticipation of a New Year bringing closure to the past and fresh new opportunities to look forward to. The blank pages of the 2018 calendar are waiting to be filled with goals, aspirations and why not, even some dreams.
As a teenager, I recall stepping out onto the balcony of our 6th floor home around 5 minutes before the actual New Year so that I could soak in the last few minutes of the year all to myself and by myself. It was probably my way of self-examining or reviewing the past, or perhaps looking for a miraculous prediction of what the future holds. As though the crisp cold air, the night sky, the drizzle or rain, the ring around the moon, or the clarity of it was going to be any indication of the future outcome of the year ahead. I was young and a dreamer. I dreamed. I wanted to write like the great authors of the past. The romantic writers like Thomas Hardy and the Bronte sisters enticed me beyond my intuitive senses; oh, to write about social and philosophical themes like Charles Dickens; to be more daring like D.H. Lawrence; to write poetry like Robert Frost and Sylva Gaboudigian (in whose honor I was named). The written word had such power over me. Words born of moments. Moments born of solitude, of cherishing love, of adventure and risk, of heroism. I thought I could write intricate novels and I dreamed of publishing books, signing copies, changing the world through my words. At best, I kept a diary. But it was not for all the world to admire and to analyze my words. My diary was my own. Writing became the art of my mind, my breath, my heartbeat. I was a teenager in love with love, and with life. And every year, between dusting off the old year and polishing the new, amid the dreams of putting pen to paper, I’d send out my wishes, hopes, and prayers into the universe asking for whatever it is that a teenager could ask for while growing up in a family that blanketed me with tough love. Then, at the stroke of midnight the sound of the ships horns in the harbor would signal the start of the New Year, and I would rush back indoors to be present in the here and now to embrace family and friends celebrating newness.
The years have rolled by. We’re nearing the end of the second decade of the 21st century. Some of us thought we would never make it this far. Many of us have experienced major changes in our current life situations. We have emigrated and immigrated; we have lost members of our families while welcoming others in the same embrace. We have formed new social circles and perhaps adapted our customs to changing circumstances, yet one thing remains constant in my ritual. I still step outside or find a window to view the night sky, but it is no longer to dream of imagining like Beatrix Potter or the wizardry of J.K. Rowling. I look to the sky to count my blessings. The years have been good to me. People have been good to me. I have been surrounded by family and human connections who remind me that my thoughts in writing bear weight and have merit. I have been given the profound honor to be the 2018 winter commencement speaker for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of La Verne. I am also humbled yet proud to present the first edition of my book “Moments in Thought,” a personal journey published by the ULV Press 2017. The presentation will be held Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 7pm at the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. It is open to all, and I would be honored to personally greet my readers.