At the tail end of 2016, a Facebook post containing this photo caught my attention.
I decided to go for it. Personally, I’m not usually one for resolutions (mostly because in my case, they don’t last long), but this sounded do-able. One little note per week, and a visual component to help remind me keep it going.
Well, I got as far as June.
I don’t remember exactly why I stopped. Probably some lame excuse about being busy, even though it took all of two minutes each week to think of a highlight and write it down. And, habits, as I’m sure you don’t need reminding, are easy to continue breaking after the initial break. But as I was documenting the first half of 2017, a pattern emerged. Nearly all of my happy memories involved the people around me. Whether the occasions were birthday parties, beer tastings, family dinners, road trips, catching-up lunches, FaceTiming, or graduation celebrations, 23 of my 25 weekly highlights involved people who cared enough to invest themselves in my life — and, I’d like to think, the reverse is true. One could also make an argument that one of the two remaining highlights (resuming blogging) could also be people-centered, seeing as blogging is ideally community based.
All that said, 2017 is not a year I’m sorry to see the back of. While the sticky notes stopped in June, September broke me, and the rest of the year was spent trying to figure out my next steps. There were no more sticky notes in 2017, nor did I care to look at the existing ones. They felt like they belonged to my old life.
Blame it on the new year, but as the date approached I finally screwed up the courage to finish my long-ago abandoned substitute application for the district where I completed my student teaching. I submitted it on the first school day of the year, and informed my former host teachers I was available to request as a sub. Rehashing what had happened to those who don’t know the story — hell, sometimes just being back at a high school — can be painful.
Yesterday was a good day. I was, if not confident, at least willing to consider that I was going down the right path by applying to sub. Today I’m already feeling something akin to buyer’s remorse — is this really what I want to be doing? Am I ready?
The good news is it’s a short-term commitment, day by day, and that’s what I’m trying to focus on at the moment. The idea of one day signing another year-long contract after breaking my last one is daunting, to put it mildly. Right now I can’t think that far ahead.
The sticky notes reminded me that life is better when it’s shared. I could exist inside my own head, dwelling on the past, what I should have done, what I could have said, what I am and am not ready for. And I do. Daily. Incessantly, sometimes. (Even writing this, I’m constantly going back to edit. God help the perfectionists.) Isolation is an overanalyzer’s best friend. Or I could spend meaningful time with those who love me, in serious dialogue or baking cookies. Sharing worry, in person or in writing, has a way of taking away its power. And often it seems less significant outside of one’s head. I’m trying to make a habit of not letting myself isolate and dwell. You could call it a resolution.
My dad has a new favorite metaphor about life being a car. The windshield, in its vastness and inescapability, is the future. The rearview mirror is the past. Helps the driver to navigate to a degree, but still relatively small and insignificant by comparison.
One conjures up images of making like Jo Dee Messina in her song and tearing off the rearview. But I’ll see what a little duct tape can do.