I never make New Year's resolutions. I find it tedious to write down lists I already mentally review every day. I don't like officially committing myself to something where I cannot guarantee success, don't want to set myself up for a disappointing failure. I don't think that's a great way to start out a year.
Over the years, I have developed practices of reflection and anticipation that eschew the shallow ritual of a resolutions list. I've made goals, toward grace and contentedness. I've asked questions instead. In one way or another, I try to pay attention to all a year has brought me and what a new year might hold. List or not, it's an important awareness--like a death and a birth all at once, a passing that is mourned or welcomed, sometimes both together.
This year, I was at a loss for what to do, and if and how to share it. I feel like one crawling toward a finish line to close out 2016. I am tired. I wasn't sure I had the energy or desire to further reflect over all we've lived this year.
Don't mistake that for immaturity or ingratitude; rather, I have lived these 12 months in reflection. I have been slapped by the hard lessons; mourned losses of all sorts; and tearfully fallen into the hidden pools of grace that reverently reveal themselves where it seems they should not be. I have felt my faith stretched, felt the fear and the joy in that. I have wallowed in sorrow and battled guilt over such petty sadness. I have laughed so hard I've peed my pants. I have renewed passions, found pleasure in simple things, and laid to rest a few dreams at the high, high price of heartbreak.
Somehow, through all of this, though confused and exhausted, a little unsteady, I also emerge refined. Hopeful. Curious.
In 2016, I was stripped of all control and all certainty, two things upon which, I admit, I have always relied on. I was forced, sometimes kicking and screaming, to simultaneously hold the excitement and the terror of surrender. In 2016, I have felt smaller than a speck and as fierce as a goddess. I've felt the shame of ignorance and the surge of divine wisdom. I have meagerly existed in the day-to-day and allowed my heart to dream so far beyond where I would have allowed it to go before. I have been stretched to these two contrasting ends of human experience, which, if you think about it, leaves your heart quite vulnerable. And none of this was by choice, it wasn't my own design.
I wrote once, "I like the life that happens to me more than the life I make happen." I grimace a bit, typing that a second time. It's funny, documenting life in reflection, recalling what once seemed like epiphanies with the new benefit of hindsight.
Still, perhaps through this year's events (and non-events), through its unfolding and its inevitable end, I have found what I never have actually had at the start of a new chapter before: A blank slate. It's not that we don't start over again and again; we can be made new daily. That doesn't make it blank, probably most often because we don't let it. But for 2017, I have no expectations. I have no idea what is coming and no power to cast vision toward something specific.
I'm a little afraid of that. Rightly so, I suppose. Experience says, though, that there will be hidden grace too, maybe new surprises or fresh appreciation for how rich in Love we all can be. With that, it came to me: I will make no plans for the year. I will let it come. Come it will, in crashing waves sometimes, and, hopefully, also in a sweetly trickling stream of life. I'll have to hold myself open to that, as best I can, one hand clutching the uncertainty, the other clutching hope, the stance itself bearing my heart first into whatever comes my way.
Motherhood has taught me how tricky it is to wish open-heartedness upon those you love. All the same, may you end this year peacefully and start the next one soft.