Hello, blog. Writing here is like connecting with a long-lost friend. A little uneasy at first, but hoping to find my footing once more. And listen, I know people don’t read things nearly as long as blogs anymore, but maybe blogs will be retro again in 2018? Who knows? I’m definitely striving for a longer attention span myself this year.
A year ago I made a resolution to approach 2017 with intentionality. The Year of Intentional Living wasn’t a well constructed or fully ironed out resolution. As the year comes to a close, I realize it wasn’t a resolution at all so much as it was a reaction to everything that was happening in the world one year ago.
To say this was a “good” year seems disingenuous. On a personal level, there were some great things: I traveled to a bunch of amazing countries, I sold my first book, my kid learned to sleep through the night, Cheryl Strayed followed me on Twitter. But on another level, it was unsettling and deeply disappointing. I’m not really good at distinguishing me from the world around me. My sense of well-being is inextricably linked to the energy that surrounds me. And the energy that has surrounded me in 2017 has been downright manic.
There has been a shift in my perspective of the world. And the only way I know how to describe it is as a game-changer. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I have a lot of clarity around it. In fact, I’ve spent the bulk of the last year wondering, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO HERE? And, HOW DO I SHAPE MYSELF INTO A BETTER HUMAN?
It was a lot like how I felt immediately following TC’s assault. To borrow a phrase from Elizabeth Gilbert, my soul was appalled. And what I know to be true about these soul-appalling moments in life is that they are excellent teachers. They also tend to alter our course forward. I don’t really buy into that silver linings bit, but from brain injury I did learn that suffering is not in vain. The most valuable, transformative lessons are the ones that pain makes available to us.
Like a lot of people, last November left me reeling, fearful for the future, and genuinely worried about the state of goodness in the world (not to mention, what-are-we-going-to-do-about-climate-change). I began to wonder, is integrity not a thing we value anymore? Is character not fundamental? And have I been mistaken for all my life in thinking that deep down, we all really do share the same values?
2018 is days away and I’m no closer to answers than I was a year ago. But I think I might be ready to stop asking. Because here’s the thing I’m learning: we can’t live our lives in an effort to correct others. We can’t force people into reflection or make everyone believe the same thing. Put simply, we cannot control it all. Especially when that sense of control stems from the belief that our perspective is the only one that matters. We can only figure out the best way to live in alignment with our own values.
Although I’ve (unsurprisingly) fallen short in trying to save the world, this year of intentional living was not fruitless. At its core was a desire to bring more awareness to my choices. To recognize my impact on the world around me. To consider the legacy I want to leave behind.
As a result, our family became more fixated on our relationship with the environment. We adopted some great eco-friendly habits that have cut down on our waste and made us more conscientious about our consumption. We realized how much we dislike being owners of “stuff,” how the “stuff” quickly comes to own us, and how little of our time we really want to devote to managing it all. We realized that we could be doing better in staying present with each other. That phones and gadgets and to-do lists and our overused claim of BUSYNESS are actually just excuses for denying ourselves joy.
So as my favorite holiday of the year approaches – that amazingly reliable reset button we all need – I’m approaching it with vagueness. And certainly with less lofty ambitions. I’m not going to save the world with my impassioned Tweets or my dedication to composting. But if I take the time to slow down, to listen to my heart pulling me forward, and to aim for doing a bit better than the year before, I just may have a chance at saving myself.