“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines…and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.” – Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines
Many of you are slaving away, tediously scribbling your notes for a new year, maybe feeling a little exhilarated or nauseous at the magnanimity of all there is to do. To you Resolutionary soldiers I say, calm it down. No doubt your holiday lights have already been neatly packed and replaced with next year’s Fourth of July banners. You might already be printing recipes and collecting craft projects for 2013’s epic Thanksgiving feast. Stop Spring cleaning, tape your anxious little hands to your lap, and listen here, child.
This life is going to get on just fine without the lists.
There’s much to be said for setting goals, chasing dreams. What I used to start with were papers filled with potential, great expectations, large hope for the coming year. What I’d so often finish with were papers filled with checks, goals chased down and crossed through, dreams realized in the nick of time because there was still that one unfulfilled bullet point glaring at me. I’d list and re-list harder, sure that the fancier the cursive, the more weight my wishes would carry. I neatly itemized life and spent a year marking through items. 12 months, some 365 days pass and maybe all I’ve seen or noticed is a To-Do list, a worn-through sheet of paper or mental note. Competition oozed from angry eyes and I was scorned realizing that I’d come in 2nd, a First Place Loser, because I’d yet to accomplish Goal #32.75: Stop & Smell The Roses. We are so busy living by these life lists, it seems, that we miss the living part.
Probably for the last time, this is my issue with resolutions. Any more would be beating a lazy, unmotivated horse, and I don’t have the energy for all that. Instead I can show you one version of 2012, one small life in one small nook of the world, one small blogger who for one year decided to stop planning. Without self-imposed deadlines for weight loss or habits broken or mountains climbed, I kept wide-open eyes and enjoyed a wide-open year filled drop-by-ounce with whatever came my way.
A Free-Range 2012
This year I gave up planning with such a fierceness that I let you, dear bossy readers, plan my whole wedding.
This year I wore a white dress, lightning did not strike, and I played Bride.
This year Bride stood beneath a waterfall of ribbon, reached out and touched tender letters sent from real people, envelopes smudged with air from Japan and Ohio, Kentucky and Australia.
This year I glanced at a picture of the ocean and later marvelled at the shore of it, pleasant photographs blown away by real-to-the- touch splash & awe.
This year I met a blogging friend for the first time on my wedding day, realized with much relief that people are so often even better than we can imagine.
This year The AntiCraft got crafty, glueing and stitching and staple gunning nothing into something. I only burned four limbs.
This year a young and flimsy thing sprouted into something big and strong, firm as a tree trunk, iron-willed. He announced he was “FREE!” as we celebrated his turning three.
This year some benevolent force let me at long last get some kind of grip on parenting.
This year some cruel force told me to loosen that grip immediately upon getting it, and the purpose of my parenting went off to day school.
This year I accepted that I am inherently ridiculous.
This year you accepted me this way, too.
This year my mother wrote more, and I was given small snippets of another her, the gift of seeing our parents as real people.
This year we moved, and I discovered my propensity for being the weird neighbor knows no bounds or county lines or subdivision gates.
This year I learned Spanish from a kid’s puzzle.
This year I sustained bondage wounds attempting to understand The Fashions.
This year I bit my lip and only always moaned about high gas prices and groaned about those damn kids with their damn boom-boom-hippity-hop music.
This year I was the first 92-year-old to turn 25.
This year I lost a friend.
This year we learned that love makes no sense.
This year I was thankful for the mystery.
This year your Tiny Sparks lit a fire of empathy and understanding and hope.
This year I hurt for strangers, childless mothers, the cruel way we cannot fix the most broken things.
This year I yelled furious, ugly prayers.
This year I watched my country yard burst high and green, fade slow and orange, shiver bare and cold, and something told me to have faith that the thaw would come.
This year I cried grateful prayers, thankful that we get to be new.
This year I sat at typing in quiet, morning hours. Relishing your words and this time alone to write my own, I stopped to hear a hum buzzing through the silence.
This year, below mountains of diapers and dustpans, amid grocery runs and sick days, I lived an electric life.
Tell me the best bits from your 2012.
Wishing you all wide-open eyes, wide-open lives, and a 2013 that sizzles and pops!