This is the reinvention season. The time when life either spirals or centers. We remake houses and children, hastily shellacking both with a festive, serene varnish. We remake old acquaintances with holiday greetings. We remake wish lists. We remake goals, promises, priorities.
This year, 2015, was to be my year of intentional living, and I set the bar high. Life did not get the memo. It intervened in unforeseen ways that threw me into doubt and distraction. Still, I managed several things on my intentional living plan.
‘Tis time to chart a course for 2016. My theme: Reinvention of Me. What’s that even mean? That I hear my own voice clearly. That I build up my world without burning it down. That I get nice and comfy in my own skin, in my own mind, and in my own capabilities.
Sounds hard. I suspect it will be a challenge. ‘Most every second. That’s what makes it worthwhile.
My biggest enemies include, inter alia: worry, hesitation, holding back. These are the microfailures that prevent growth. They are all noise, no signal. They are the barriers I laboriously assemble and then curse as if I had nothing to do with them. They are my safe harbors, where I can peek into life and say, “Yeah, I totally wish I could do that awesome kick-ass thing over there but…barriers! Dash it all!” And then I snap in an aw-shucks way and smirk because I obviously live in the 1940s.
Don’t be misled: I also fear failure. But, listen, success? That’s terrifying. You succeed, the bar rises. You succeed enough and folks start glancing your way. Pretty soon, people get EXPECTATIONS and all manner of fancy notions. Pretty soon, people start deciding they have a lot to say about you and the stuff you do.
And you know what? Those are the things I want. A challenge. Success. Expectations. Not a peek into life but a romp through it. This should get interesting.
After teaching with Amridge University for the last four years, I am looking for a new adventure. My job search centers now on three ideals: 1) work that increases the good in the world, 2) work that fully employs my skill sets, and 3) work that pushes me toward personal and professional growth.
What does that look like? Where will it be? What is the title? I don’t yet know. And I embrace that. It propels me to scour media for opportunities. It encourages me to reach for challenges that quicken my heart. Landing in the right place may require some patience and perseverance and, yes, even a measure of stress.
The cornerstone for my personal reinvention is borrowed from the Bible:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4: 13-17
Woody Allen is credited with saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Regardless of the source of this statement, the sentiment rings true to my mind. My year of intentional living was this on steroids. The spreadsheet is a wonder to behold! I managed to accomplish many of the goals I set for 2015, but they happened in unplanned and mixed-up ways. It has been a year I have needed. And it has paved the way for less detailed planning and more detailed doing.
- Plan to live.
- Appreciate the tenuous nature of my life.
- Rely on the central truth of my life.
- Know the good I ought to do.
- Do the good I ought to do.
Seems simple enough.
Recently, my father taught art lessons at my kitchen table. His first pupil was Third, my seven-year-old son. Grandpa, as we call him these days, put on his USAF voice and said, “Now, get ready. You’re gonna have to do the hardest thing you’ll do all day. It’s really hard – the hardest thing you’ll have to do all day – are you ready?” Third affirmed his readiness. “Sit still and be quiet for two minutes.”
Eight seconds later, Third: Do you want me to go to another room to be quiet?
We laughed and Third took it in stride, eventually putting in at least a minute of quietude.
Sit still and be quiet. You can hardly get simpler than that. Yet there was a question and a restart. My 2016 will hopefully look a little like that. An opportunity to do a hard thing will arise. I’ll be still long enough to be quiet. Sometimes I’ll ask for clarification. When the laughter subsides, I’ll press on and do the hard thing the best I can.
I am a writer whose last big write was in August. I have been a writer on leave. It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. I say that invention is the mother of obligation and obligation is the mother of absence. In turn, absence is the mother of objectivity, who is the mother of reinvention.
My life pulled in unexpected directions this year. Those obligations required my absence from that all-desired creative chrysalis. Pushed apart from words and art granted me the space and perspective to reconsider both.
Authenticity, craft, courage, engagement – these are the cornerstones to my creative shack. No more chrysalis. Now the place I live.
My theme for 2016: Reinvention: creating the unknown from the known.
Do you have a theme for the new year so fast approaching? Share it in the comments.