I seem to find my way back to my blog every December. It’s almost as if the time is ripe for contemplation and goal setting, reflection on a past year and the year to come. I find that I’m always a little overwhelmed with the potentiality of the next year, the pressure to “get something done” and finish things I’ve started. My cat reminds me, often, that sometimes it’s okay to just lie in front of the fire and veg.
Each December I am reminded to look backward, for a little while. I struggle with that. Yet, it’s necessary to understand how we got to where we are, and where we are going next. Looking back at the path well-worn tells us that we have come far and provides that small chuck of satisfaction to fuel the oncoming work of the next year. Some might even call it “hope.” For me, I think I’ll call it strength. The reminder that I can accomplish something, have accomplished something, and that life is something more than a series of days, tasks, strung together like popcorn strings. It’s seeing the forest AND the trees.
I flew back from Kansas yesterday; Thirty-six thousand feet above snow-covered wonderfulness and open plains. It was a beautiful flight, with fluffy clouds dotting the horizon, cirrus clouds above my head. It puts one in perspective, being that small, that high, with a world to view. I broke out pen and paper and began writing down all the things to look at in the next year. Once started, the flood of longing to create – the oldest of human motivations – could not be stopped. Some was mundane, some not so. I think of the fifty-two weeks in a year, as many weekends, knowing that some are already booked through the year – I wonder – where does the time go? How do we sift out what is important to us and not?
I hear often about people who say “I don’t have the time for that.” What they are really saying is that “I won’t make the time for that because it’s not as important as this, over here.” There is nothing wrong with that – in fact, I rather wish people would say the latter rather than the former. It’s a more accurate picture of their world and it implies a sense of self-understanding that I can respect. Someone who has weighed their options and chosen one over another is mature enough to say “I choose this” and stand by it. It show courage to stand up for what you choose. It shows integrity. Why does it take courage? Because it involves sacrifice and making a statement to people who you think might judge you.
It takes sacrifice because we may want all the prizes but we aren’t going to get them. Selecting your path means that you focus on that path, not on all the others you could have chosen. Belonging to a volunteer organization, I hear all the time from people who are disappointed that they didn’t get this prize task or that special job. Yet, those same people aren’t able to be there when needed most – when those special jobs would require the most of them. How can they want to get the prize without being there to do the job? It’s like wanting to make more money at your job without being able to do the work. The key that’s missing is that they don’t realize that their choices are okay – they can choose not to be there. They can choose the vacation over that volunteer work – no one will give them any grief about it. But they can’t have their cake and eat it, too. Discrimination is the art of choosing what we want to do, doing it, and accepting the rewards (and consequences) of doing that. For me, discrimination with my time is extremely important.
Dealing with the judgment can be even more difficult. We all carry the baggage of our youth – it’s just that some have learned to work through the process faster than others. Some have never worked through it at all. I still hear in my head about how I needed to have this job or that job because I needed to make money to be successful. Making money was success. An “A” is success – anything less than a lot of money or an “A” is not success. It is a funny thing, learning to overcome baggage. You never quite do it but you learn to recognize it and process it a lot faster. Yet, there are some things which judgment finds me. Discrimination tests your ability to deal with judgment. The first step is courage to choose – the next is living with all the rest.
So, choosing the year’s path is a weighty business for me. I go inward quite a bit and wonder what I have the strength to accomplish, to do, to enjoy. I remind myself often that it’s not the destination – it’s the journey. It’s the moments of enjoying the process, of learning the path’s windings. I am reminded of Nature and its lessons, and remembering that as I grow older, so do my own choices. I hope. I hope that I have the courage of standing up for my choices, for defending what is important to me – without the voices of my past whispering in my mind, causing my resolve to waver, harming my own self-worth. I hope that I learn from experience, value my own knowledge and intelligence, and select those things which help me become an even better person.
I love the mirror of Winter and the lessons that hibernation provides. I love the cold slowness of thought, the rustle of life in my heart, and the promise of a new year. Maybe this year, writing will be more important to me, and when I write, I do it here, and track the footprints of the next year from beginning to end. Not, like the impatient reader, merely just jump to the end. I must remember… the Journey.