Many people choose a word to guide them through the year ahead; a word that sets their intentions and helps them make choices, set goals, achieve dreams.
If my past year had a word, it chose me. And that word was: SURVIVAL.
Even before 2020 became the year of global distress and personal woe, I had set the bar low and not given myself goals or resolutions; the goal was to rest and I resolved to go as slow as I needed. I was already tired.
And so, when the word turned upside down and threw so much of what we knew from our chartered courses, I felt simultaneously unmoored, but also able to adapt in a way that got me where I needed to go: safety.
On one hand, I didn’t feel -outside of the obvious- like I had gone completely off the rails or nor did I have to cancel any of my non-existent plans, pause my invisible goals, extended my unset deadlines. Because I hadn’t set any, made any, agreed to any.
On the other, there was nothing stopping me from swaddling myself deep into what kept me as comfortable as one could be during a time of such turmoil.
While I don’t believe that a magical cleansing takes place when one year becomes the next, I do like the idea of a common, set time to evaluate the paths we’ve chosen and decide whether to continue steadily, veer slightly, or about-face entirely. And in that reflection, I’ve decided to let a word guide my next year’s choices.
The past year’s SURVIVAL got me to today (in full and heavy acknowledgement of the many who could not -often for reasons outside of their own control- do even that), but I am not ready to hit the ground running at this starting point. And while I am not revitalized or well-nourished enough to believe myself capable of great feats or glorious resolutions, I am ready to come out from where I’ve been safely nestled and test the waters once again.
Which brings me to the word I’ve chosen for this year: BALANCE
Sometimes balance means low. Bending. Feet rooted. Body folded. Exhale.
It means doing less. It means protecting yourself and your time. It means closing windows and locking doors, saying no instead of yes, making a point to regroup, looking before you leap… if you ever even make the jump.
Sometimes balance means high. Reaching. Gaze upward. Heart open. Inhale.
It means doing more. It means being generous with your resources. It means opening up and inviting in, asking for seconds, making decisions swiftly, jumping in headfirst and not looking back… especially when things get hard.
Both sides of balance take practice, patience, effort, discipline: qualities not often available to me last year, and that may not always be available to me this year.
I know that even in times I am able to put my full focus on balance, I will inevitably stutter, stumble, or even fall. And part of achieving balance is giving myself grace should I …when I… slip.
Yes. This year, I will do my best to balance.
Balance the hope I feel about the future with the fear I feel about how we will get there. Balance the joy I feel seeing the first Black, Indian-American, female Vice President of the United States with the sadness I feel reflecting on the shoulders of so many brave and powerful women on whose shoulder she stands, especially when they were never able to take their rightful place at the table. Balance the ambition I harbor with rest I still require. Balance my desires with my whims. Balance whatever life throws my way.
Because I may still be on that tightrope, but the view is so marvelous from here.