The thing with new years is that people tend to look for the big things when they look back — better jobs, financial breakthroughs, new romance, bucket-list travels, dreams fulfilled. Any milestone that could mark the year as “good” or at least different from years past.
I’ve been around four decades now (which suddenly makes me sound old). I won’t pretend to be wiser than I was 10 years ago, but I do know this: the non-events of our lives are as important as the “highlights.” The series of actions that make up our every day is no less special than the special occasions that we like to dress up for. In fact, the older I get, the more I find comfort in sameness: waking up in the same bed that knows my sleepless nights; spending Christmas in the same house that has been our home for nine years; seeing the same weathered faces with the same old jokes in family reunions; wearing the same shirt and nightgown that were among the last gifts from my beloved grandparents; listening to the same admonitions of my parents who, thank God, are still alive and well and nagging me to take my vitamins; reading the same books to my adorable niece; having lunch with the same friends I’ve had lunch with since high school and college; planning trips with the same people I’ve known from my first job, when we couldn’t afford to plan trips; going to the same cafes where I have spent countless hours working (or procrastinating, depending on the deadline); using the same gadgets that have more memories of my life than I do; keeping the same mobile numbers; attending the same church; loving the same people; worshipping the same God.
It is in sameness that the heart settles and learns to distinguish an aberration as a gift or a curse. From sameness spring new dreams, new desires. It is hard to recognize the meaningful stirrings of the soul when we are constantly restless, in pursuit of the next big thing in our lives. I know this because this has always been my struggle — to be still, to dwell in the now and not think of where I should be or what I must do next.
As I end 2019 and look forward to defining the next decade of my life, I thank God for the same things and the same people that have stayed with me year after year after year. I am humbled by those who stick around, through the good days and the bad. I pray that we all transition well into this new decade. May we always have the same courage and strength that have brought us this far. May we never take for granted the space that we occupy in this life, knowing we could be gone anytime. May we love wholly and give freely and dream boldly. May we stay true to our core (as a filmmaker once advised me), and may we not be lost in a world that offers us so much.
Have a blast this 2020. ###