Sunday, January 9, 2011

Yearly Reflection

The beginning of January is always a time a great reflection for me. It is not only a new calendar year, but also a new year of life, as my birthday is on the 9th of the month. And so, my reflections tend to be deeper and all-encompassing. Most people use the start of the new year to look forward, make resolutions, develop plans and goals for the year ahead. Many people refrain from looking back over the year past, as the feel it is just that – the past. However, I feel that the only way to move forward is to first review the past and the lessons it has imparted.
As I look back on 2010 and my 34th year of life, there are many occasions, experiences, and emotions that come to mind. I recall with fondness many social gatherings among friends and family. I recall with joy my children’s birthdays, our family vacations, walking for my Masters, our annual apple picking trip, the holiday season just past. I recall with sadness my visits to City of Hope to see my cousin who is battling cancer and my intense grief at the knowledge of another cousin’s loss of his wife at age 32. However, despite all of these memories, I really don’t feel as if I remember the past year at all. These are all just moments…snippets of time that could have occurred in any year. What about the time in between? What about the daily living that occurs as we love, laugh, cry, watch our children grow, watch ourselves and our partners evolve, foster new relationships, nurture existing relationships, build our home and our families?
I recently finished a book titled Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry, by Katrina Kenison, where the author states:
The most precious moments of my family’s life are not the ones illuminated by birthday candles, Christmas lights, or amusement park rides, and they cannot be captured on film or tape. The moments I hold most dear are those that arise unbidden in the course of any day – small, evanescent, scarcely worth noticing except for the fact that I am being offered, for just one second, a glimpse into another’s soul.
When I read this I had an Aha! moment and realized I have been missing out every year on the very things that make life meaningful…the time in between. I have been concentrating so hard on getting from one milestone to the other – the birthday, the holiday, the vacation, etc. – that I have been ignoring the living! I will forever have photos of my children’s birthdays, souvenirs of our trip to Yosemite, and the handprint on the school-made Mother’s Day card…but will I remember the way my daughters face looked as she slept cuddled next to me in bed at age six, or my sophomore son’s face as he finally mastered his AP Euro class and raised his grade, or my husbands excited head bops as he listens to a CD of his newest favorite band, or my families hilarious laughter at my mother’s attempt to guess picture puzzle while playing a game of Cadoo?
As we grow older, life seems to zip by us at an ever increasing rate. We feel a greater sense of urgency with each passing year to do more, see more, experience more, before our time runs out. My fifteen year old son is already feeling the effects of this phenomenon and says that the year seems to go by faster now that when he was younger. But the reality is that time is constant. A year has 365 days and a day has 24 hours when we are five years old and when we are eighty-five. Time doesn’t move any faster – we do. For my daughter who is seven years old, every day is infinite. She will wake up tomorrow and think, “What am I doing today? What will today bring?” On the other hand, I will wake up tomorrow thinking, “There won’t be enough hours in the day to do all I have to do. What are my plans for this week, next month, next year?” As children we live in the moment and at some point in our lives we learn (from watching the adults around us) how to live continually in the future. No wonder time passes so quickly! No wonder we can’t remember what happens between one milestone and another!
So for 2011, and my 35th year of life, I intend to live every minute of every day of every week of every month. I plan on savoring all the in between moments – every smile, every laugh, every tear. I aim to capture every seemingly insignificant instance with my mind, my heart, and my soul. I promise to allow my daily living to envelope me happily and completely. Next year on January 9th when I reflect on the year past, I don’t want to only remember the important dates or the Kodak moments, but the cuddles and kisses, the stories at bedtime, the sound of teenage laughter, the feel of the intimate embraces. I want to remember the year with the richness and fullness that is my daily life and that defines me and my family. Here’s to right now…Cheers!

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