Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reverb 10 Day One - One Word

I'm participating in Reverb 10, a fantastic month-long initiative for reflection. Here I will be responding to one prompt ever day.

December 1 One Word.

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
When I saw the prompt for today, I had a moment of panic-slash-i-don't-know-about-this.

I'm not a one word type of gal. One thought takes me many words, and my brain is definitely not a succinct being. I twirl an idea around on itself, toss it back and forth and mull it over for ages before acting on it. And when I want to write something, I just start blathering on about nonsense until the conclusion just sort of finds itself.

But I'm sure you know that by now.

The point is, the idea of coming up with one word - just one! - for this crazy, complicated, happy, involved year is just..... hard.

But when I was talking with my friend Christina on the phone a few minutes ago, and I was talking in much the way I think (circular, no rhyme or reason, chaotic), I stumbled over the word.


I feel like I am in limbo. Recently I entered the part of my life that didn't require a plan. I thought that once I got into grad school (check), found a cool internship (check), finished my thesis (torturous check), graduated (check), met great guy (check), and landed a "real" job (check), my need for change/excitement/travel would suddenly be squelched and I would enter into that miraculous stable-but-exciting part of life called adulthood where I would have nary a worry.

And now I am restless. For something else. For a goal/purpose/task/plan.

For some reason I'm finding it difficult to enjoy this crazy, beautiful, scary life just as it is.

Without a goal in mind.

Without a purpose.

Just as it is.

So it is. Limbo. And in order to jump out of this limbo I get crazy ideas. Like applying to a PhD program. Just so I have a goal to work towards and a point in the future where I can channel all of my energy. Even though going through a PhD program would be a sort of torture that I should never willingly put myself through. {PhD programs are not inherently evil (maybe?), but I suffered enough getting my Master's degree that I should know better than to sign up for an enhanced version of that experience.} I should not put myself through an unnecessary torture just so I can be working towards a goal right?...... Right?

This year has scared me. Without anything to run towards, I am forced to pause. To reflect. To watch the tiny whispers of my life. To become accustomed to pattern, to stillness, to growth. To quiet. And I think I'm realizing - right now - that in order to continue growing, I need to reframe this view that I have of my life. What I see as Limbo is really just stillness.

Stillness. That feeling that you get when you work on something so attentively that you cease to have intruding thoughts. Think washing dishes, working in the garden, knitting. I am able to so fully lose myself in these activities that I can wake up from them moments (seconds? hours?) later and realize that I have completed the entire task without giving it thought. These moments are my meditations, my moments of grace.

For 2011, I hope to have some version of this grace in my daily life. Not just on the rare occasion that I handwash an entire sink of dishes, but in the bigger picture as well. Rather than developing a goal for tomorrow I hope that I find a way to pause in the today. To breathe in deeply, to give my energy to the things I really care about (family, writing, friends, laughing) rather than the things I really don't (more of this, less of that, another job, another city, another goal).

2010: Limbo
2011: Stillness

What about you? What is your word for 2010? 2011?

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