It has been, by my best calculation, at least twenty years that I've been choosing a word (or, on occasion, more than one) to be my focus for the year. A young friend of mine pointed out to me the other day that choosing a word for the year has become "a thing" and that she gives me credit for starting the whole trend. I'm flattered, Madeline.
The first year there were two: flexibility and spontaneity, two behaviors that anyone who knew me at the time would not, for one minute, have associated with me. Turns out that giving myself a reach that vastly exceeded my grasp was indeed a challenge, but at the close of the year I was infinitely more flexible (even if by necessity) and vastly more spontaneous.
In the intervening years I've adopted everything from serenity to risk, simplicity to release. Year before last, I gave myself five short phrases: Kneel more. Sing more. Rock more. Empty more. Stretch more. Last year, I started out with: Slow. Deep. Wide. Which became: Slow feet. Deep breaths. Wide arms.
After several days in the week between Christmas and New Year's in which I kept seeing, hearing, sensing a single word, I made up my mind. "Still" would become word of 2022.
Funny thing, though, I realized upon contemplation: It has multiple meanings (1. Still[adjective]]: not moving or making a sound; 2. Still [adverb]: up to and including the present or the time; nevertheless.), both of which sound like something worth contemplating over 365 days.
But then, as though my imagination was in the mood for mischief, I thought of a third common meaning: Still (noun): apparatus used in distillation.
And the question that came to me, that has stayed with me, is: What is brewing? What is being made? What is being purified down to its essence in me this year?
I've told a number of folks that the day my Medicare card came in the mail, I stared at it for the longest time wondering, "How did this happen?"
I knew, of course, how it had happened.
It happened because I was born in an era with vaccines and antibiotics. It happened because I ate lots of good food and got enough exercise and wore my seatbelt. It happened because I did not intentionally abuse my body and because I have good genes.
It happened because, as a result of a combination of things over which I have had limited control, I was lucky enough to live to 65, an age that lots of people never reach. John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, John Lennon. My friend Jim, my aunt Tooster, my cousin Donna.
It happened and I am grateful. Grateful enough to believe that there is a reason. Grateful enough to believe that while I learn to live still as adjective and adverb, I can also learn to live it as noun. And in the living let something fine and pure be born in me.