My word of the year

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As much as I love the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, I rarely make them.

Many folks choose a word of the year, and I’m one of those people. I choose a word rather than making a goal that I know, at a cellular level, that I can’t reach. Behind me, I leave a trail of unrealized New Year’s resolutions.

One year, I made the resolution to exercise. Cliché, I know. I got a gym membership, exercised a few months, then skipped the gym and kept paying the monthly fee because “I might go back.” Also, I didn’t want to face the nice lady at the gym and tell her I was a quitter — as if she already didn’t know.

One year, my New Year’s resolution was to read all the books in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. This was no doubt around 2005, when the movie version came out. What was I thinking? I had three children under the age of 10. When did I think I was going to have all this leisure time to read? (I read one and a half books in the series. Out of nine.)

At some point, I switched over to words of the year. “Fierce” was the word for the year I wanted to take more chances. “Ritual” was the year when I started to embrace the natural rhythms of my life — to honor my natural routines and start celebrating them as intentional rather than repetitive or boring.

But what is the word I want to choose to define 2022?

I’m starting this year feeling a little bit downtrodden. I notice I complain a lot more about things than I used to. My confidence in my own abilities has been dashed. I’m questioning my resilience as a mother, a wife, daughter, and a friend. I’m guilty of feeling sorry for myself when I have no business being anything but grateful.

The word that keeps popping in my head? Delight. Early last year, I read The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. This little book of essays is Gay’s own version of a gratitude journal. Almost every day, he wrote in his notebook about little observations of the things happening around him: he started noticing the little things, the mundane parts of our day that are so easily ignored, and started really seeing them for their beauty and their joy.

He observes nature, but also the beauty of the city, the hopeful business of humans being kind to other humans.

Delight is what I want to feel in 2022.

For me, it’s not enough to wait for delight to come to me — to hope that my eyes are open to it when it happens to pass by. For me, I need to absolutely pursue delight — make it a daily mantra, a regimen, a destination.

After the past two years of worry, outrage, illness, failure, dashed hopes, and loss, I’m going to have to do something pretty dramatic to turn this ship around.

This is going to mean sometimes shirking responsibility and doing something spontaneous. I think it’s going to involve a lot of taking off my shoes, to remind myself that I’m connected to this earth: to feel the shocking cold of snow, the squish of mud between my toes, the feel of sun-warmed grass. It’s going to mean saying no to more things so I can stop rushing, so I can spend more time with loved ones. Maybe I’ll stay up late, even if it’s Tuesday. Maybe I’ll find a park bench and just watch the contagious joy of kids at a playground after a long winter. It might mean learning something new, or going to a new place, or eating new types of food. Maybe I’ll pay for a stranger’s coffee or fly a kite. Mail a letter just to tell a friend that I love them.

I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but 2022, you’re giving me 12 glorious months to figure out what delights me. I want to reconnect with my inner child. I’d like to toss worry out the window and replace it with unabashed wonder.

I hope you’ll do that, too. Make 2022 a better year — not best, just better. Chase after what you want, and don’t stop until you’ve caught up with it, wrestled it to the ground, and given it a great big bear hug.

2022, we’re coming for you.

Originally published Jan. 13, 2022 on MyHuntleyNews.