This is my 7th year choosing (or attempting to choose) One Little Word that will help to guide me through the year. Each year, I look back at the past list of words as I think about selecting a new word. Looking at the collection of words takes me back to each January, to each beginning. I am fascinated by the obvious push and pull of my years. When they are set down, back to back, I can see that I was releasing myself out to explore and then feeling the need to pull back to settle for a bit and simply digest. This veritable breathing–inhale: fill up on the tension of movement, exhale: settle into quiet–is as palpable to me now, filling up my lungs and emptying them, as was each years’ exploration. There is so much story behind each word, stories that have not yet found their way out.
This was the year that I was introduced to Rolf Gates, author of Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga. In this transformative book, Gates expertly uses the metaphor of the canoe and riding down that river, trusting the twists, turns and inevitable capsizes that will certainly occur. I was in need of a canoe to climb into and take me on my own journey.
An antiquated word that means the condition of being in a fixed and definite place. While it is not a word that is used any longer in our modern vernacular, I was feeling a keen need for stability and place, and this word encapsulated all that I longed for in my world at this time. It was a word that I felt so connected to, I wore it on my wrist, engraved on a small circle of silver, until the threads gave way. It now lives on my keychain, a constant reminder of this need to belong somewhere.
My search for stability and grounding was followed up with some serious wanderlust! I had so much that I wanted to do and see and experience….there is still so much that I want to do and see and experience. This quest, however, turned out to be inward and the growth and exploration was, indeed, valiant.
I emerged from my journey inward to find that the waters were far too rough for my comfort. I needed to sit. I needed to observe. I needed to limit decisions and sit with variables. I needed to be in my own stillness; movement of any kind held dangerous potential.
This was the year that I found Brené Brown and felt the fundamental shift of stepping into my own power. The notion that being vulnerable and connected was a brave endeavor spoke to me, spoke to my fear and to my past. I knew that to be fully present in my own life meant that I had to be brave, that I had to see where courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy existed in my world and how they were interconnected.
But then March came and all bets were off. Bravery meant something entirely different.
Like so many, I thought that I could find the joy. Seize the joy. Create the joy. There had to be joy, right? There was joy in moments, for sure, but wasn’t there joy that could sweep over me like a fog rolling in? Wasn’t there Total Joy? I spent the year sinking into the moments and finding the connections between them. I remembered that joy existed, even when I couldn’t see it, and I had faith that joy was not elusive and would, one day, come to rest within me.
And for this year…Silence.
I am going to harness my inner Aaron Burr and talk less, maybe even smile more. And even if silence does not prevail, at least I am committed to being thoughtful with my words and harnessing my impulsivity. I will take a breath or two before speaking, and when I can’t refrain, I will at least reflect on my words.