I’ve been casting my mind back over the last 12 months, like pretty much everyone else, and reflecting on the lessons learned, the tasks completed, and what was left undone. I noticed a post on social media deriding those who ponder a new year. “If your life sucked on the last day of 2016, it’s still going to suck on the 1st day of 2017.” This is entirely possible. And it entirely misses the point of reflection and marking time.
(This is the same individual who once demanded to know why people who built tiny houses on wheels didn’t just buy a travel trailer. To that I say, campers are ugly, not intended for year-round use, not built to international building codes, not designed to last more than 10 years, not set up for sustainability,… but I digress.)
Humans mark time, and have done so since, well, time started to be marked. We’re designed to measure success (or failure), progress (or lack thereof), whether goals have been met, and whether the inexorable aging process is compensating us with experience and wisdom. We’re still operating on time systems left to us by the Romans and Babylonians, so now is the designated pause in our revolution around the sun for us to consider the past and the future.
My year was packed – almost frantic with activity. I’ve run 3 businesses and part of a 4th. I’ve been active in 3 organizations, taken multiple trips, published a book, started a magazine, and shared hundreds of blog and social media posts. I’ve sold 2 vehicles and a camper. Painted the house. Replaced furniture. Remodeled 2 buildings. I’ve lost some I thought of as dear friends and reconnected with others who reminded me of the true meaning of friendship. I’ve rethought my life, made some tough choices, and tested my limits.
Looking back, there is a theme – a pattern – to this year that stands out above other years. And it is this… Letting Go.
I let go of an unprofitable business. I released the bitterness and resentment surrounding my husband’s death. I removed the man-made fences surrounding my faith. I relinquished any illusion of control over the unhappiness of family or friends. I walked away from our once beloved co-op and surrendered management of my children’s every educational moment. I relinquished the responsibility of doing yard work, and the guilt of paying someone else to do it. I said good-bye to the fantasy of eternally young parents and the idea that they will always be here. I dismissed employees and clients that were not healthy for my financial future. I gave up the illusion that there are generally accepted societal norms, common sense, and basic humanity. I jettisoned emotional baggage and physical leftovers of my old life. And I stopped looking for the place that I belong.
I know there is more letting go to come. I need to let more possessions go. I need to eventually release the hold on my house (and let it release its hold on me). My daughter will probably learn to drive, a forced letting go. My mother may slip away. My favorite yoga pants have stretched their last.
But I want the next year to be one of Reaching Out. I want to move toward the next chapter of life to refashion my days to reflect my values. I want to grab hold of more travel, to relish the time I have with true friends and family. I want to work into a deeper healing and a greater joy and more forward movement.
This year, I invested in myself. Not all of the money multiplied (or even broke even). Much of the time was spent in learning, instead of escapism or worry or grief. My energy resources are definitely depleted. I might do some things differently, but I would still do them all.
Was 2016 good or bad? I do not know. It passed. That is all. It was a learning year. A year of stabilizing and accepting, while simultaneously letting go and upsetting the balance.
So I could be in a better balance.
Letting go means you have to open your hands, which means they are ready to accept something new. And my hands are open.