With a baby on the way in eight or nine weeks, give or take a couple (am I going to begin every post with this caveat from now until the baby is — yikes! — actually here?), I believe it would be foolish for me to make any resolutions or set any goals for the new year. Sure, there’s plenty I’d like to do this year — finish reading Walden, read at least twenty-four books of poetry, participate in a Dream Team with Christina Katz, and etc. — but none of it is anything I can commit to with any confidence right now. (Well, maybe I can commit to finishing Walden.…)
Therefore, I decided to choose a word to represent my hopes for myself in this new year — an idea I believe I first got from Amber at Strocel.com. The word had to work within my life both as it is now and as it may be with a new baby in our family.
I have a tendency to hold back. I’ve seen it in my zazen, I’ve seen it in my writing, I’ve seen it in my relationships. I’ve seen it even as I do my work. That way my mind drifts away so often? That’s me holding back, being unwilling to give myself just to what’s right in front of me.
It should be no surprise, really. Wasn’t I taught (in subtle, confused ways) to bury my talents, hide my light under a bushel? That my kookiness was shameful, unwanted? That my dreaminess was a sure path to ridiculousness and failure? It’s a common story, really; maybe it’s everyone’s story. And it explains why it can be so hard just to give ourselves — to others, to our deepest wishes, to this moment.
In 2012, I vow to give. I like the other words this particular word brings to mind — like gifts and presence and trust. I like that I’m not entirely certain what it means. What should I give? What does giving myself really mean?
… now I have a question for all you choosers of words for the year out there. I’ve chosen my word. Now what do I do with it?
I’m not entirely clueless: I’ve decided to begin simply by noticing the specific ways in which I hold back. Notice them, and write them down. (Actually, the first thing I wrote down is that I tend not to write down so many of my stray ideas and scraps of lines for poems.) Then what? I guess we’ll see….
Photo credit: Tim Green