So I begin this new year penniless and broken, but rich in sight and together in spirit. Every year I attempt to not be so sappy and sentimental about years and their endings and beginnings. But this year I’m just going to forget about that. If we have no reason to acknowledge endings and beginnings, then what are we?
Some may say it is better to fabricate your own, decide for yourself thine alpha and omega and that is fine and dandy – I often do that in life. But there is something about a universal mark of stopping and starting in the well-acknowledged continuum, something that gives you a sense of unity with others in the world because you know they are also stopping and starting with you. We are all wishing on the same star.
2012, sunshine morning woke me with high hopes painting over last year’s stale graffiti. Look, I am not going to be a pessimist about 2011; it was not a cursed year, and 2012 may not be any “better” – more than likely will be some form of “harder.”
But it doesn’t really matter what comes this year. I can’t hope for peace and tranquility, and that is okay. What matters is who I am in this coming year. How I face things that come. How I get up each morning. How I interact with people. How I push through walls or deign to take another route. How I think inside myself. How I maintain peace, faith, hope, and love in my heart.
This morning, shortly after waking up, I had a moment, a wave of relief, just for a second: it will never be 2011 again. And then I felt bad – that is not how I want to look at it at all. 2011 was a blessed year, a wild year, a year full of real tears and even more real smiles. It was the most significant year of my life thus far, as the most recent year always is.
And then I became instantly overwhelmed with the sheer excitement of what I can DO this year! I yanked the unabridged Les Miserables off the shelf: nearly 1,500 pages, a daunting first-of-the-year undertaking for this slow reader. It made me so very ecstatic; so far I am 17 pages in and loving it.
A moment later, mom came in to my room and delivered a book I had just received in the mail: “When They Were 22: 100 Famous People at the Turning Point in Their Lives.” I will be 22 this August and plan to read it then.
As I was flipping through the book, I remembered for the umpteenth time that this year is The Year – the one I plan to get an internship working with wolves in some capacity or another. The ideal time I have set aside for myself to do that is sometime between July and October, right around the “turning 22” part of my life. Nobody is saying a “turning point” of any gigantic significance will happen, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve been wanting to do this since I was 16, and anything that is “about time” in coming is a turning point in itself.
I also have many learning and miscellaneous goals for this year. Things like:
Learn the skills of an amateur naturalist, à la Rachel Carson or John Muir or the doctor in Master and Commander
Learn intermediate Spanish to the point where I would feel comfortable traveling to a Spanish-speaking country by myself
Have a college-level understanding of chemistry, especially in how it relates to ecology
Explore 4 American cities
Farm at least once in each season
Take at least 8 rock climbing lessons
Some priorities, though, come first. #1 is to heal my leg! (For those of you who don’t know, I tore a ligament in my knee in November playing Ultimate Frisbee and have to get it operated on in a couple of days). #2 is to create some income. My Life Without College blog is about to become an enterprise, folks. Imagine me sitting here with a broken leg, winding up a funky-looking toy that sings songs about looking for college alternatives. Let’s see what this baby can really do!
In closing, I have no closing. I am so very happy, always have been, always will be. At some points in 2011 I almost felt dead, but I am learning to not take myself seriously at those times anymore. Maybe life isn’t exactly a piece of cake, but the world is my perfect playground… and nobody is going to rain on my parade!
Stay tuned for another post on books read in 2011 and what I thought of them, and a sampler of some pictures I took in the last week of the year.