The start of a new year is like opening up to the first page of a new book. I mean, it has that new book smell, right? The pages are unmarred by coffee stains or chocolate smears. Neither bathtub water nor rain has warped the paper into waves and bubbles. The corners aren’t dog-eared yet. Nobody’s underlined or written in the margins. It’s all ahead for you to discover, a wonderful adventure waiting to unfold.
Something about the first page of a new book excites me with possibilities. Sure, ten pages in I may be disappointed. Midway, I could be impatient to figure out how it’s all gonna end up. The end may cause me to throw the book across the room…or pull it to my chest with a deep and satisfied sigh. But I don’t know when I start how it’s going to end, and that is thrilling. Ah, beginnings.
It’s easy to think of the new year as a book I will write alone: my goals, my hopes, my fears, my attempts, my striving, my success, my failure. However, a year is never written entirely by one person. What others say and do impacts the story in ways big and small, often totally out of my control.
No matter how reclusive we are, how other people behave affects us and vice versa. No man is an island. No woman writes the story of her year alone.
I recently read an essay on The Big Smoke about ambition being a story we make up and tell ourselves. (Is Ambition the Fiction That We Tell Ourselves by Will McMahan, THE BIG SMOKE, Dec. 29,2019).
In the essay, McMahan talks about how we see ourselves as the protagonists in our own life stories, our ambitions the main plotlines. This is something to consider, especially as McMahan asks, “What happens when the life doesn’t live up to expectations?” Do we feel like our lives are tragedies if we don’t achieve what we’ve set out to accomplish? Do we feel overly proud of ourselves if we do and take all the credit? He suggests we stop telling ourselves this fiction and just be.
In that spirit, my theme and vision for the year 2020 is “flow.” (See my earlier post, Success: What is it Good For for more on this concept.) I’m envisioning my year like a book of poetry or pastiche, or maybe a collection of interconnected stories and experiences rather than a linear narrative with the requisite goals, conflicts, antagonists, stumbling blocks, black moments, triumphs and failures leading to some kind of resolution.
I also believe that the story of each year is written by all of us, together. There is opportunity for each of us to create love, peace, kindness, beauty, art, understanding on the universe’s page of the day or to create chaos, strife, anger, vileness, and hate.
Let’s not muck up the pages too much this year.
Happy 2020, Dear Reader!
What is your word for the year?