The year is ending. As Lang Leav put it, we have made it “all the way around the sun,” and we are about to make the trip again. But before I do it with the rest of the world, I want to take a look back at the past 12 months.
So I’ve spent some time rereading Journal entries I’ve written this year. I am looking for defining moments, I am looking for recurring themes. I am looking for patterns. I am trying to see how I lived, I am trying to see whether I lived at all.
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“I am seeking silence, waiting for that moment of tenderness, a sort of softness…when I can hear the voice of my heart again, my own voice, or that of my conscience, or a whisper, from God.
Every year I keep waiting to do things. I say, when so and so happens, I will do so and so. Just let me get to Point B, and then I’ll start so and so. Or, when I get the time, then I’ll do so and so.
I want to live now instead of perpetually waiting.”
“It is still words I go back to, after all this time, it’s still words and I. I feel the trembling beneath my skin, the letters under my tongue. There is nothing else that is more real to me, nothing else but this pulse of words within me.”
“Life lately has been about solitude, still—
about coffee by myself in late afternoons,
nights eating dinner alone.
About asking, why am I here?”
“I feel like it’s the dead of the night and I am waiting for the sunrise. Day after day is the same. I am infected by an irredeemable boredom. What else is here?”
“You know, when you lose something, sometimes all of the things painful about it attack you all at once. Sadness, anger, guilt, pain, refusal to let go, refusal to accept. And these are very difficult emotions to try to explain to anyone in detail. But I think the thing that makes me saddest is that for me, the loss of one thing stands for the whole concept and reality of loss in general. ‘Everything that you can touch is temporary,’ I once heard from a movie. It’s true, and also life-changing. Everything—things, people, your own body—all these are temporary by nature. How do you deal with something as real and as painful as this realization?”
“Do you really think God exists? Have you never asked, is it all just a ruse? A rationalization, perhaps, or an illusion we’ve had to create for ourselves?
What is it, what is this power that makes the world turn, the universe to expand, the stars to burn bright? Where did it all come from?”
“In this world, there will be many people who will tell you or hint at you that you can’t do it. Or that what you want to pursue isn’t worth pursuing. Or that you will never be good enough. These voices are dangerous.
But they’re not nearly as dangerous as the one in your head. Because this inner voice, the one that tells you your dreams are impossible and that you will fail, will pester you day and night if you let it. Or even if you refuse to let it, it will continue to find ways to eat up your hope and kill your dreams, thought by agonizing thought.
You must be better than this.”
“They say goodness always trumps evil,
salvation will come,
water will wash away ruin
and light will always overcome darkness.
I am not sure I still believe it now.
But I hope you know this—
that you are one thing that is good
in my life
that has always been good.
I cannot thank the Heavens enough
“I want to find time to be with myself more often. I feel overwhelmed by all the work I need to do…I want time off. I want to read more and write often. Feel alive a little more. Yesterday night I was in a coffee shop reading Chicken Soup for the Soul. I think I need a little more feeling in my life. I need to regain perspective. I need to recover who I am.”
“A fresh delight,
O sweet escape
I am looking for an exit.
Calm me down
or fire me up
There’s only one way out,
I know it.”
“I feel like I am getting there, but in a very, very, VERY slow manner…I couldn’t say I’m needing it to go faster; the pace at which I have to learn things is now currently beyond what I’ve had to do before. But it’s the process this call is needing—a slow, bit-by-bit inching towards that place…if you can call it a place.”
“Life, and love, defies definition.”
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Rereading those entries, I see a couple of themes pop up. Certainly, a feeling of being overwhelmed by work and not having enough time to live (as I defined living) dominated the year. Feeling like I needed to escape is not a good sign; it means I have taken a wrong turn somewhere. I had been wanting more freedom, but I guess I’d been too scared to take it for myself. Maybe next year I can finally say No when I mean No, so I don’t end up feeling strangled by my own life.
This year, there has also been loss, and an unwillingness to part with things I’ve grown comfortable with, things I’ve learned to love. You know how it is, when you wear things out, or you break them, and you know you have to replace them but you don’t want to because although they’re really really old, they’re familiar and comfortable and have creases in all the right places. But then life gives you a new one, and it doesn’t happen right away, but you know one day the new thing will become old and familiar too, and have creases in all the right places. And you will come to love it, too.
As a final thought, I want to share the main thing I learned this year, and it is this—the magic, and the power, of life lies in the way it just goes on, no matter what. It is, at once, the best and worst thing about life. It matters that we know how to look back, of course, but what matters more is the way we carry ourselves forward. As Seneca said, fate will either lead you forward, or drag you along. Either way, the world will continue to turn.
A trip around the sun done—congratulations, dear, we made it.
Another trip is coming up. Let’s make the best of it.
Happy New Year, y’all. 🙂
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