2017: a few words.

by Michael King

January 1 may be my favorite day of each year. Call it an arbitrary time marker in a chaotic, unsympathetic universe if you will, but, to me, the day almost vibrates with an energy of opportunity. The world exhales, grants itself permission to begin again. Another journey around the sun.

I compare it, this thrill, to the feeling I get when I see a blank word document, and I’m unsure of what I’m going to write. Or, perhaps, the beginning of a new save file on a video game. How will I play through it this time? What might I discover anew? 2017. What will that mean to me when we’re ushering in 2018?

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About 15 hours in, here’s what I can tell you so far about 2017: I celebrated surrounded by friends at an historic theatre in downtown Muncie. Surrounded by friends, I danced, sipped champagne, undid my top neck button and loosened my tie. After months of healing, of considering, of allowing myself to sit and feel my way to health, I found joy. For the first time, I began to feel grateful that 2016 changed up my cards.

Un peu de magie. That is how I’m going to remember the first 15 hours of 2017. Granting myself permission to try again, begin anew, be joyful. Adventure awaits.

Resolve. New Year’s Resolutions are an annual controversy. Naysayers point to the inevitable letdown of not setting realistic goals, perhaps, or claim that each day presents the opportunity to set new goals. There’s truth to all of this, perhaps, but I see no harm in gathering the resolve to try in new directions (or, perhaps, to try again in old ones).

A year ago, I resolved to read, run, and write more. I’ve done all three, which is wonderful, but I’m going to up the ante a bit. Give myself a bit more structure. Here are my three resolutions for 2017:

  • Read no fewer than 12 books this year. After I finish each, I will pass them onto someone who can use them.
  • Write with the intent of being published. This year, I’d like to submit my work.
  • Run 1,000 miles in 2017. Document each day’s work. Include a half-marathon

One stitch at a time. It’s no secret that The Last Five Years has become something of an obsession in my day-to-day life. The soundtrack echoes in my ears on each run, during each shower, throughout every long drive. In his musical, Jason Robert Brown manages to capture some pretty striking truths about love, life, and growing through all of it. Sorry, friends: I won’t be leaving the soundtrack behind anytime soon.

In her final song, lead character Cathy sings about her love for Jamie at the dawn of their relationship. Preparing to fall in love with him, to try again, Cathy sings these words:

I stand on a precipice; I struggle to keep my balance.
I open myself, I open myself, one stitch at a time.

It’s possible, I think, that life can be boiled down to a series of tries, failures, mending processes, and tries again. To heal, to gather up all the pieces of ourselves when we fall, is a cautious process. Our best tries in life our not cautious.

All this is to say this: 2016 found me mending. I dug into my being, found my absolutes, and surrounded myself with people who care. In 2017, I’m going to work to pull out the stitches, ready – again – to share myself bravely.

For all of you. Last night, just after midnight, I posted a Facebook status that said ‘Happy New Year! I love most of you.’ I meant this, of course, to be funny. To extend such a positive sentiment to almost all is in alignment with my humor.

But here it is: I don’t know what any of this would be worth if I didn’t get the joy of getting to know you, to watch and help as you dig into who you are and try in new directions. I don’t know if I’d be able to muster much of the bravery, honesty, kindness, or sincerity I want to exemplify if I didn’t have you all to bolster me, trust me, and believe in me.

Try anew. Pay attention to what you’re carrying, and – when you can – let your fingers unfurl and let go of some of the burdens. Love indiscriminately, but don’t continue searching for love where it does not dwell. Surround yourself with friends who support you, but also who challenge you to be your best self. Forgive the people who hurt you; remember that they, too, are hurting. Give more of your attention to the light than the darkness. Hold back as little as you can. Be brave.

It’s here. Let’s do it.

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