It came to me easy this time, so obvious a choice my reaction was resist. It was still December, after all, and entirely too soon for the thing to appear. Still there it was.
Listen the word said. Listen.
THAT’S JUST WHAT I WILL DO! I thought. I’ll wait, and watch, and in due time–typically a week or two after the new year has begun; once panic has fully set in–in due time, my word will drift in and alight, knowing eventually I will take note and grab hold. It’s happened three times before, you see, the January arrival of My Word for the Year, my guiding star as I move through the next 12 months of my life.
Listen is what it said.
This word business is not the sort of thing you can force, that I have learned. You can’t pick it out of a hat, or select it just because you like the sound of it, or adopt someone else’s–not if you want your word to do its work in your life. You can’t choose it at all, if you wanna know the truth, because somehow, in some mysterious way–if you pay attention–your word will find you.
And so I waited as words came and words went. And then this morning I awoke with it both in my head and on my heart, unmistakable in its insistence.
(So you can see why this Word business is very serious to me.)
Late last month, my radar up, a potential 2014 word appeared in my life. It stood tall and strong, a word so insistent it hardly required considering. It was just suddenly there, unmoving, a deal done. But then the strangest thing happened. Another word floated in, lighter than air, and landed right on its shoulder. This new word sparkled a bit (catching my eye), then lifted off with such ease and nonchalance I found my heart lighter, my spirits lifted.
The next day, there it was again, this word, floating around the edges of my consciousness. It hung there a while, happy and complete, so unself-conscious in itself I found myself a bit mesmerized. It winked, then I watched as the big bold already-in-residence word dissolved before my very eyes, replaced by light and joy and the magnificence of my I Now Declare It word for 2014:
And then there’s the fact it sauntered in, this concept, in no big rush. Just an idea, a comment, really, passing through.
Hello, I said, I like you.
And so the idea hung around, waiting, patiently waiting while I got used to it, this notion of a Word for the Year. And I committed, beginning the hunt for just the right one. I tried on one, two, three. But something didn’t feel quite right, this hard work of searching outjust the right word. And so I stepped back, like the idea itself, watching and waiting.
I am a believer, have I told you that? Twelve months later, I know for sure that having a Word for the Year—a centering force for my life—changed everything.
What now? What about 2013? I’ve been watching and waiting, trying not to grow impatient as the year’s first month clicks by. Words have come, I must tell you, very fine words that just weren’t mine, words for a different time.
And then it happened. My word, hidden there amid eloquence, peeking from behind grand ceremony, a mere commoner.
It’s not so surprising, actually, the fact that I’ve decided to have a Word for the Year. It’s just the kind of thing that appeals to me—a focus for my life, a magnetic field, a centering force when I start to drift (and inevitably I will) toward those sparkly edges. I suffer greatly from the Anything Is Possible So Let’s Not Decide Just YetSyndrome, which means to accomplish anything, I require some serious structure.
This is such a significant truth in my life that I find myself creating rules for the tiniest of tasks. You can listen to this song on your iPod, but only while running on this treadmill. Keep the little bottles of hotel bathroom lotion if you want, but they need to fit in this ziplock bag. Buy that expensive yarn! Just don’t start another project—not even a sample row or two just to see how it knits up—until you finish the socks you were so excited about three months ago. Yes, some life parameters are a very good thing for me.
So the idea of a Word for the Year spoke to my heart the moment I read about it on Winn Collier’s blog a few days ago. He wrote:
For a while, Miska’s had these annual encounters where a word arrives, vivid and undeniable. And continuing: This year, I love Miska’s word. A future year, I could imagine it being mine. But it’s not – and that’s the crucial revelation. You can’t snag another person’s word. You can’t even snag another person’s conviction that you need to have a word …You have to find your own —find your own way, find your own self.
How I love that thought. And having designated January as a month for Do-overs, Rethinks, and What-ifs, if ever a word were going to find me and take root, surely, the time was now. And so I decided to keep watch.
My word arrived unexpectedly, announcing itself to me as I sat in church last Sunday. Some other candidates had already come and gone—flirtatious, appealing, pausing long enough to be considered, but then casually drifting past.
Not this word. It announced itself boldly, pulling up a chair and having a seat right there, undeniably taking up residence.
We stood to sing the Psalm, and my word hung on. Second reading. Prayer. Anthem. (“I’m still he-re!”) And then Dr. Bragan walked to the pulpit and began to preach one of those sermons that seems preached right at you, this one doubly alarming in its gentleness.
Silence, he said.
Find time for quiet.
I sat with my word, unflinching. Face to face, eye to eye.
A still small voice, he said. Make room.
And then he said, and I swear it:
He has a word for you.
And so I smiled, accepting my word. Welcoming it, really, into my busy life. And then I set about thinking of SPACE—physical, emotional, spiritual—and why that need has planted itself so firmly in my soul.
I don’t know the answer yet. I just know it is here to stay.
Has a word found you? If so, I’d love to hear your story. Just leave a comment below or send me an email. Perhaps we’ll start a support group for people and their words.