For 2013 I wish you promise, surprise, and danger.
I suppose I should explain myself.
Naming the year
Last year I learned a new ritual – from my friends Daphne and Melissa – that I’ve adopted: “naming” the year. There is something that seems magical about naming the year. But as with most powerful mental tools, it’s important to remember to be conscious (I like that better than “careful”) what you wish for, because you’re very likely to get it.
Forced, naming seems an academic exercise that will have one of two apparently contradictory results: it will either be frustrating and meaningless, or it will shape your year in ways that you didn’t intend – and not in a good way. Done well, the name arises from somewhere inside, and becomes a beacon and guidepost, as well as a challenge, that focuses and orders the chaos of experience.
2012 was the year of emergence
Last year for me was the year of “emergence.” That name came to me after a lot of pondering and false starts. When it “came to me,” it was clear that it came from somewhere deep inside, somewhere that self-knowledge lives not-quite-consciously, from a part of me with enough hindsight to say in full truth where I’ve been, to know with brutal honesty who I am, and to portend with courage what I could become.
The year lived up to its name. I didn’t write for the first half of the year. First, because the only thing I was thinking about was the one thing that I couldn’t write about publicly – the fact that I was considering leaving my job and pursuing a new opportunity – and second because I took the break to think about how I wanted to show up in the media and how that did or didn’t fit my goals for the future. What emerged during that time was a new job at my company, a promotion and more importantly with nearly everything I’ve ever wanted in a job. Along with that came the beginnings of a vision for the rest of my working life, and new opportunities to learn new skills that required everything I had and more – no one said that what emerges is always 100% pleasant.
Wrapping up, moving ahead
Gradually over the course of the year, what’s important to me has emerged with ever greater clarity. That the work is more important than the job, that relationships are more important than either, and that finding meaning is the most important thing of all. These are all things I’ve thought for a long time. What changed when I named the year wasn’t something totally new; what emerged were the conditions for new and unexpected ways to really and deeply experience what I previously simply believed.
The year ended for me with a month of being sick – though far from life-threatening, I was sicker than I can recall being for a very, very long time. Thinking about it, this was probably the perfect transition to the new year; there’s nothing to put things in perspective like being barely able, and then for a week entirely un-able, to function. From a 2012 perspective, what emerged was a realization that I needed to set priorities, that it was important not to take things for granted, that if I didn’t choose what was important I would simply drown in minutia.
But I kept thinking there was more to it, and wondered what would be next. Vaguely, a couple of days ago I realized it was going to be the new year and I knew I’d spend some time looking back, and looking ahead. Vaguely, I wondered if I’d name 2013, and what name I might give it. Vaguely, I was suspicious that my illness was in part the universe’s way of making sure I didn’t screw up something important by thinking about it too much.
And then I went back to bed.
2013 is the year of thinking dangerously
This morning I woke from a long, deep sleep full of odd, fitful fever-dreams with this floating in my head: “The Year of Thinking Dangerously.” And I knew the year had its name.
I wondered if it should be the year of living dangerously. Isn’t that more courageous, doesn’t it show the courage of my convictions more to decide to take risks through my actions?
Maybe. Probably. But it didn’t feel right. It feels more like a time to think boldly than a time to act boldly. Maybe if we were able to see things in new ways, from different perspectives, we’d be less inclined to the insanity of doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results.
For 2013, I want to see things differently, from a fresh perspective. I want to be surprised when I think about things. I want to have conversations that I haven’t had before. I would dearly love to prove wrong the common “wisdom” (since when is wisdom common?) that “there is nothing new under the sun.”
Make no mistake: new ideas are dangerous. Challenging assumptions, speaking truthfully, refusing to be common, all carry the risk of voicing the unpopular and making us reconsider the safe.
Having named the year, I suspect the universe will find ways to challenge me and make sure that I stay on my toes.
And in the end, I can’t think of anything to wish you that would be better than a year of promise, surprise, and those dangerous thoughts that will open the way to being better connected.
Dr. Les Kertay, Awakened Moments