Yike. In late October I began thinking about my 2018 theme. And I immediately began to bargain. With myself.
Me: Okay. But make it something easier. Achievable.
Also Me: But look how much we’ve grown!
Me: Mmhmm. We need some stasis. Remember the last 10 months?
Also Me: Well, yes. drums fingers We should make a spreadsheet!
Me: Absolutely not.
Also Me: You are no fun anymore. Remember that time we Googled discipline and marriage. Ahahaha! Good times.
Me: Just. Easy. Like, close EVERY loophole. ‘kay?
So, this is how it went for a while. I felt like I had (non-clinical) PTSD from my annual themes! Yes, I know that’s supremely awful, which is why and how I got over myself. Because the truth is that I have grown a lot since these themes began.
Messy. Difficult. Interesting. Exhausting. The perfect target for all my blame. Something goes wrong, it’s the theme’s fault!
One word kept arising as I fretted, silently and aloud to pretty much anybody, about the theme for the new year: quantity. I wasn’t sure what that meant. I knew I did NOT want to simply spreadsheet and dictate quotas to myself. I couldn’t seem to wrap my brain’s fingerlings around what I did want.
Quantity. More. Improve. Increase. Grow. I wanted to become…more? More what? It would have been fairly straightforward to say, I want to write 2000 words a day and one sketch a week and 30 minutes with each boy each night and one date night a week and on and on. But I’ve been there. Counting. Relentlessly. Waiting for it to add up to something. To me.
This is not that.
I was sitting in worship on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the preacher gave a little Greek lesson.
Now about brotherly love, we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other….Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more. [And] Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Thessalonians 4: 9-12
The preacher said that in the original Greek, the conjunctive ‘and’ joins the concept of loving more and more with the concept of the ambitions set forth.
What do I want? In this time of Trump, in this time of constant one-upmanship terribleness, what do I want? To love more and more.
How do I do that? By making it my ambition to lead a quiet life, mind my own business, and work with my hands.
How does that work? Leading a quiet life and minding my own business ensure that I stay grounded, healthy, and out of meaningless skirmishes (but not out of the world entirely). Working with my hands is everything I’ve ever wanted in my career life and never given myself permission to do, and it gives me a space to be productive. Winning the respect of outsiders gives me the opportunity to show them my love in more meaningful ways. Not being dependent on anybody means that others can depend on me.
My theme: Ambition.
If you’d suggested that to me in October, I would have giggled. Ambition sounds so aggressive. Because it is not passive. Two thousand eighteen is about not waiting for someone else to fix it, not waiting for social media to become less antisocial, not waiting to work with my hands, not waiting to be the person I am. But increase. Increase in love, in ambition, in quietude, in mindfulness, in productivity.
Come closer, let me tell you a secret: I don’t think this is an easier theme. Alas! growth is never easy. It comes through work and some pain and change. Every place you are in life is supposed to be a little challenging for the purpose of growth.
I’m quietly thrilled to see where this theme takes me in my journey, though I hesitate to confess it because of superstition and fear of both success and failure. I have a feeling there will be no lack of lessons!
I’ll spend some time figuring out how to approach learning about this theme and living it, but meanwhile I know you can expect my absence from social media, except for blogging. I will take a one-year break from adding to social media, barring any local revolutions or family situations or (gasp!) publishing news that require SM communications. I’ll keep my accounts and pin a post/tweet to the top letting people know I won’t be around those forums, and I’ll continue the blog as an outlet (and inlet, for that matter). Social media is a beast I’ve struggled with for a long while, so I’m glad to give myself the keys to this one. The purpose, probably obviously, is to aspire to live a quiet life, which means not knowing every imbecilic thing POTUS says or every spat amongst tweeters or every cultural/political viewpoint of churchgoers and family members. [I’m set FREE!]