The beginning of a new year represents an opportunity to close the door on everything awful and hard and chaotic from the previous year and open the door to fresh possibilities and positive outcomes. This is a comforting and even hopeful sentiment, but what I have noticed is that a new year is simply a continuation of the old. Shocking, I know. The awful-hard-chaotic do not magically disappear no matter how much I resolve that they will. While positive possibilities do exist, they only need a sunrise to present themselves and not some special dropping of a shiny ball in a city that is not even in my country…or time zone.
Over the past years, my ushering in of a new year has looked less like closing doors, making resolutions, and watching fireworks than simply pausing on the path to see patterns of ‘coming’ that can inform my ‘going.’ For example, the Have Learned/Still Learning pattern:
Some of the many things I most definitely and definitively learned this year (which means that they can be completely avoided in the future, or be repeated with absolute confidence of success, or be added to a growing body of either useful or trivial knowledge):
– what an olecranon is (companion learning to the above)
– how to cook a prime rib roast (I know, I know, just stick it in the oven, but there’s that changing the temperature thing, and that thermometer thing…and I’d never cooked one before, because…that $$$ thing…)
– how to find a way to record attendance digitally for flex block at school (sounds positively simple…yeah, not so much)
– what Edison must have felt like when his light bulb worked after so many failures (companion learning to the above)
– that I can successfully grow spaghetti squash in my garden (I’m probably the only person who even remotely cares about this…)
– that kingbirds like to hang out in my backyard treetops (funny I never even noticed before…)
– how to identify a Northern Harrier (the only hawk in our area that I can positively identify – so like, this is a big deal for me)
Thank you 2016 for such informative lessons.
But here is the real crux of the matter. Most of what 2016 taught me are the same things I’ve been learning for years. They defy closing doors and well-intentioned resolutions because they do not operate by calendars or clocks or timetables or lists. They operate within the bounds of a lived life…
What I am continually learning (sometimes with moderate gains, sometimes with huge setbacks…but never with the jump to Have Learned).
– that it’s okay for me to correct people when they mispronounce my name, to let people know that my introversion is not snobbery and that my need to process things quietly is not disengagement.
– that although I will never be the fun-loving, story-telling, “life-of-the-party” type, I do have a voice and that simply listening in on the fringes often provides the most meaningful opportunities to exercise it
– that adding my voice to some situations or conversations requires a bravery that I do not inherently possess
– how to meet the ever-increasing demands of curriculum and pedagogy without neglecting or overlooking the deep emotional and relational needs of the students who sit in my classroom
– that having adulting children and aging parents places me in an important role as a link between two generations – a role that requires a giving forward and a giving back and a need to do both with wisdom
– how to live love in a purposeful and authentic way, even if it is not reciprocated or even acknowledged
– how to live fully and unreservedly before an Audience of One
“Only madmen, geniuses, and supreme egotists do things purely for themselves. It is easy to buck a crowd, not too hard to march to a different drummer. But it is truly difficult- perhaps impossible- to march only to your own drumbeat. Most of us- whether we are aware of it or not, do things with an eye to the approval of some audience or other. The question is not whether we have an audience but which audience we have. This observation underscores another vital feature of the truth of calling: A life lived listening to the decisive call of God is a life lived before an audience that trumps all others- the audience of One.” Os Guinness The Call
Welcome, 2017. I have so much more to learn.