Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One-word Resolution

The wonderful Laura Lippman, author of the Tess Monaghan novels and others, posts that she has a 7-year tradition of setting a one-word resolution for the new year.  (In case you’re curious, as I was, her seven resolutions to date were Stretch, Maintain, Venture, Be, Execute, Repurpose and for 2014, Appreciate.) She challenged readers to come up with their own one-word resolution and after some thought, I have done so. 
My one-word resolution for 2014 is Integrate.  The definitions, from Dictionary.com:

in·te·grate [in-ti-greyt]; verb (used with object), in·te·grat·ed, in·te·grat·ing.
1. to bring together or incorporate (parts) into a whole.
2. to make up, combine, or complete to produce a whole or a larger unit, as parts do.
3. to unite or combine.
So why is that my resolution? 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a wide array of interests and because of that, a wide array of different people in my life, often with very different lifestyles.  Being the non-confrontational sort, I don’t have much trouble living peacefully with these different groups.  In fact, I very much value the diversity they bring to my life.  But I often feel that my life is very subdivided, with certain things shared in one place and others shared in another, and never the twain shall meet. For example, it pleases me that I have extreme conservatives and extreme progressives, straights and gays, black and white, Christians of various sorts, Jews, a Moslem and a Druid as well as some who are avidly anti-organized-religion among my Facebook friends, and I quite sincerely “Like” a lot of posts from all, but it creates a real quandary, a second-guessing, when I think about things I might want to post.
Similarly, for the past 20 years or more, I have always felt like various roles that I play in life, while each very important to me, tend toward conflict with each other.  At the very least, they live together in some tension.  Not only does professional life conflict with wife and mother, but sometimes even wife and mother coexist less peacefully than one might think.  To say nothing of the balancing act between mothering my actual son and my added-on son of the past few years. I have a regular “day job” that provides much satisfaction as well as stability, but at the same time I have the strong desire to do more with my writing. So I spend most of my time feeling pulled between competing roles.

Finally, I just had my double-nickel birthday and somehow much more than my 50th birthday, the number brought me up short.  If I let it, it makes me feel old.  Or perhaps more accurately, it makes me acutely aware that I risk becoming old.  I am aware that my body is beginning to impose some limitations but at the same time also keenly aware that the more I do physically, the more I will be able to do and the longer I will be able to do it.  The same is true in my thinking.  One doesn’t live 55 years without amassing a great deal of experience, but it is always a challenge to keep the positive learning and not fall into complacency or become a curmudgeon. And there are still so many new experiences I long to try! So many books to read, so many places to visit!

So my resolution is to integrate.  To try to figure out what actually matters to me and do those things, and those things only. To focus less on my roles and how I will be received by anyone else and more on just doing what seems right and best. To make sure I continue to fill my life with new experiences while also retaining all the lessons learned from the old ones.  To really bring together the various parts of my life into a complete unit, united and whole, at peace with myself. 


Shannon said...

Great word! I love the one word resolution. Last year my word was "engage" which I really did! Have a wonderful 2014!!!!

Kenneth Urban said...

So how old would you say you are if you didn't know your age?

Susan said...

Ken, I don't know how I missed your question when you posted it! I apologize.

If I didn't know my age and was just going by how I feel, I think I'd say roughly 35 to 40. Old enough that I don't feel like a kid any more -- have a sense of responsibility and gravitas -- but young enough that I still feel like everything is possible for me.