I want to say something about this year, about 2017, as we head into the final two weeks of it. The thing about that is, I don’t know what I want to say. That being the case, wisdom would seem to dictate that it would probably be better not to say anything. So…anyway…
I think, I want to say that I’m feeling incredibly grateful for any and every good thing in my life, and in life in general. Lately I’m finding myself humbled by that feeling of gratefulness. Lately I’m feeling like I’m incredibly lucky. This year was hardly without its challenges though I felt less inclined to vent quite as much and was more likely to quietly contemplate. I marked one year sober in September. I spent not a little time this year working on healing some relationships. There’s a wonderful quote from the film “Tombstone”, where Doc asks Wyatt what he wanted. Wyatt answers that he just wanted a normal life. Doc says, “There is no normal life, Wyatt. There’s just life. Now get on with it.” I think I began to really understand that this year.
I was thinking about the times when we’ve lived in old houses, the kinds of houses where we had to use the fireplace for heat, the kinds of houses where you have to go outside to “check” things during bad storms to make sure they haven’t come loose or blown away or leaked, how hard those kinds of houses can be to live in and how much we learned from them. That’s probably some kind of metaphor about getting older but really, it’s about actual old houses and being grateful for those lessons but understanding that everything else is like that too. It can be challenging to stay in the awareness of taking nothing for granted when things are good. Thinking about those old houses can help to keep things in perspective. There have been times in my life when I haven’t had much. I am appreciative of every good thing.
This year there were events in the world left me feeling flabbergasted time and again. I used to imagine that once I got to be a certain age, the world wouldn’t be quite so baffling to me anymore. I thought I’d gotten to be pretty jaded. This year proved to me that I’ll never really be all that jaded and that the capacity for human beings to be horrible to one another is endless. In that, my awareness of giving was re-awakened. When a person, any person, is in the middle of a personal storm, then they’ve got to deal with themselves, and make no mistake about that or the importance of that. I believe a person has to take care of themselves and take care of their own first, in order to really be able to give anywhere else. I think sometimes that people under-estimate the value of giving even in small ways and so they don’t “bother.” I thought, well, if I’m going to talk about how shocked I am at the world this year, then I ought to talk about things that are hopeful as well. There are two charities that my husband and I have donated to for years when we can and sometimes it isn’t much but that isn’t the point, or it is because every little bit helps these organizations. One of those charities is the local mission here in town, and I urge anyone who is of a mind to give to a charity to find a good local organization to give to, and the other is St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. It’s another good reminder that every kindness matters, and that there are people trying to do good in the world.
At this juncture of my life, I’ve never been more grateful for my writing, for being a writer. This year I felt like I really understood again the value of it for myself and what it means to me personally to be able to do this and in that, so much nonsense fell away. In the beginning of being a writer, or thinking that I was a writer, or trying to be a writer, there was all this insecurity, I started trying to publish and then there’s all this getting caught up in expectations and what we think other people think or don’t and worries, wonderings, doubts, trying to “succeed,” and feeling like I was perpetually out of my league, and of having to prove something, if only to myself. Somewhere in the middle of all that I remembered the place where I was writing just for me, where I was writing all day and all night and on and on and it had nothing to do with anyone else or anything else, only me, writing. I think every writer knows that place. Along those lines there’s an essay, and article, recently published at Literary Hub, about protecting, really about cherishing and honoring, one’s “inner life” as a writer, and it’s worth a read for any writer. ( Link here.)
I don’t know what to say about the year ahead other than I hope it’s a good one. That might seem kind of dull, all things considered but, all things considered, sometimes a bit of boring is good, sometimes calm is really wonderful.