Peace was just too big a word. It asks lots of questions all at once, personal, political, metaphorical, and physical. And I get a fair bit of it with my dogs and books in front of the fire with a slow snow falling outside. It is just not my word.
I thought about forgiveness for a while. I have a couple of people I probably need to forgive. But I don’t really want to forgive the one, and the other is dead so there is no real sense of urgency there either.
I liked the idea of choosing a word or phrase to accompany my new year’s resolutions. This would be an idea that I needed more of in my life. I would read and write and think about it and hopefully over the course of a year grow in my understanding of its meaning and figure out how to find or make more of it.
But choosing the word turned out to be hard. What one word or simple phrase did I want to live with all year long? It was a bigger commitment than the regular resolutions. They are at least diluted by the others on the list. Sure, I’d like to lose weight. But I also want to help Benjamin find an interesting and meaningful first real job. I want to help Hannah make a conscious choice about her major so that she picks something with intention and meaning, as opposed to what she needs the least number of credits for, as at least one of her parents did. And if those two happen and my ample backside doesn’t change much, well the kids lives are surely more important.
But this whole word thing stands alone. And even if I do it again, even if I do it every year for the rest of my life, I am already forty six, I might only get forty more words total. Fifty at the way outside. That is a small amount of words for a woman who uses so many almost carelessly in any given day.
This idea will reflect and challenge simultaneously. It aims to reveal a weakness and force a consciousness that I don’t always feel or even aspire to feel.
So I caught myself considering words that I already possess. After all how much easier to choose humor or gratitude where I feel strong and safe. I could read articles and essays that would reinforce my life. How lovely to be so validated. Also, of course, pretty far removed from the whole point of the exercise.
I also discarded for one or another reasons change, attention, slow…(this one I actually wrote in my book next to the list of resolutions and now I have to amend it), settle down, (..this is something I have been doing now for the whole of my 21 years with John. I would be lying if I said that I am no longer excitable..I come form a long line of over reactors…but I no longer need to buy a new refrigerator rather than clean the old one, and neither do I scream when I am pouring the hot fudge and cause everyone to grab pot holders and open the freezer, and get out of the way and, and, and….so I am way better), choose, simple, marriage…(although I was way tempted to pick this one so I could charge off sex with my husband in the bathroom at a restaurant or behind the movie theater to paying attention to my marriage and following my new year’s plans…okay so I told you I am still not quite settled down), and faith. Faith might be next year’s word. This one begs for some attention. But not right now, not this year.
But I did actually manage to choose a word. The word is security.
I often have feelings of insecurity. Our finances like everyone’s have been in the market freefall. This makes some people worry and behave with more practicality and greater restraint. It makes others run faster to make up for it. I figure you can always make more money. I have made and lost a fair bit of it. Now I want to make another big pile and live in Italy with all of our kids for a year. But does this lead to greater security or less? And does the running around starting new businesses make me feel more or less secure? Why do I always have something on the front burner and a couple more pots on the back burners just in case? I am surely not risk averse, but maybe worse and certainly more confusing, I seem almost to court risk. Is that by definition an inherently insecure act?
Security with my mate has led to years of good decisions piled atop more good decisions. Out of that history stands a strong and satisfying union with it own quirks and language and humor. My security in my ability to mother these kids has built a happy house and a family that we all want to come home to. It is my proudest accomplishment and so I know the benefits of decisions that lead to security.
Now how can I find enough of it to build a secure financial foundation that allows us to make the wild outlandish choices and still have a soft place to land? I don’t know. Or I don’t know anyway how to do that without becoming bored and risking it all in another silly Monopoly move sure to make me lose all my hotels. Boredom has often been my nemesis. And so that is why my word is security.
I have always claimed not to need it. I think that is probably an old lie leftover from a childhood that didn’t have any. So now I am going looking for it. I’ll let you know what I find…