If you have followed my sporadic writing for a while, you know that around this time last winter, I jumped onto the word-a-year bandwagon, choosing a verb to embody for the whole year rather than listing a bunch of New Years resolutions I would forget by February. The One Word is less a deadline or mandate, more a mantra, more a wish.
So I pushed through 2014. And, well, I don’t know what it meant. I don’t know if or how it mystically altered the course of my days. I can rearrange and frame the year with that word, but such an interpretation is forced. Push popped up organically here and there, but it wasn’t the gravity pulling me forward through the months.
So I considered the One Word experiment over. Some people genuinely seem to benefit from having a verbal focal point. Me, I tried on the shoe and it just didn’t fit. No harm done, but time to move on to other ideas.
Halfway into January, though, a word has draped around me like an unexpected blanket in an unheated room. 2015 is my year of embrace.
It’s not a word I’d expect myself to choose, or — insert eerie Enya music here — be chosen by. Embrace is the sort of sentiment written in folksy white letters on those wooden signs your great aunt hangs in her kitchen, right beside “Love Much, Laugh Often, Live Well” and “Bless This Home.” It’s mushy, and I rarely enjoy mushiness.
The more I think about embrace, though, the more I like it, and the more I can see a million little applications.
Embrace is both a demand for definitive action and a call to softness and contentment. It’s the father running barefoot but breakneck to meet his prodigal child and the dreadlocked camp counselor leading rumpled, sleepy middle schoolers in a round of “Kumbaya.”
It’s do what you can, then accept how it is. That’s a mindset from which I could learn.
When I look back over the year of push, I can see some problems with how I applied it. I may not have written down a bunch of resolutions, but I had specific goals in mind — and they were premature. Pushing is great when you’re ready, but not before. A pregnant woman can push all she wants for nine months and more, but the baby won’t come until she’s reached the apex of her labor.
Pushing too early is just shoving. It’s futile and will leave you frustrated.
It’s possible One Word really isn’t for me, and 2015 will prove it. It’s also possible it seemed that way merely because I focused too much last year on achieving something through it, when that’s not the point. It’s about focusing on one theme of your story, not predicting the next plot twist.
So this year, I’m embracing the present chapter. I’m embracing its ecstatic flourishes and villainous turns. I’m embracing the damned inspirational kitchen sign motif.
We’ll see what happens. Happy 2015, ya’ll. Love much, laugh often, live well.