Photo by Turkish Travel
My beautiful friends chose such beautiful, important words for the New Year. I watched the words flutter by me on Twitter and Facebook the first few days of 2013, inspired by their vibrancy yet hesitant to reach out and grab any of them for myself. The words were like butterflies, best admired from a distance; if I tried to grab one, surely I would ruin it.
Of course, I could always try to preserve its beauty by carefully mounting it, spreading its wings and affixing them with pins, where they could be protected by glass and displayed on the wall. A close friend of my parents has a museum-quality butterfly collection, which I examined each time we visited his house when I was a child. I was amazed by the intricacy of the patterns and colors, the delicate hair-like feathers which I knew could be damaged by even the most careful touch. I was also sobered to see the butterflies fixed and flat, no longer flitting happily in the sunshine.
Hopes are like that: beautiful but delicate, and so easily crushed. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t touch my One Word for 2012. In fact, I didn’t even remember claiming a word, until I looked at my first blog post of last January and saw it, tentative and half-buried, there.
That was my word. I guess I should have tattooed it on my wrist, because I’m pretty sure I had forgotten all about it by February. Which is exactly why I tend to avoid such resolutions and proclamations—rather than inspire and guide me, they tend to weigh on me, either in my remembering them or forgetting them.
But just as I decided to close myself up against the word—to protect myself against hopeful, challenging things I can’t control—I saw the irony and laughed. I was closing myself to openness. I can be open or I can be closed; I can’t be both. And if I have to chose, I’d rather try to be more open and maybe fail, than try to find any assurance in the safety of closing myself off.
I wondered, briefly, if I shouldn’t choose a new word for 2013. Is it cheating to give the same word another whirl? But it seems clear that openness is still what I need more of. It may be what I will always need more of, given the protective, logical, organized aspects of my character.
Even though I didn’t go into any real detail in my post a year ago, as soon as I saw the word written there, all my hopes around openness came back to me:
I wanted (and still want) to be more open to God’s leading and less dependent on my own plans.
I wanted (and still want) to be more open to unexpected people and moments that arrive in my life, even when they seem to get in the way of something else I had expected or planned.
I wanted (and still want) to be more open to good things that might emerge as a result of something difficult or frustrating. I wanted (and still want) to be more open to possibility, and less constricted by worry and fear.
I probably won’t get the word tattooed on my wrist, or even pin down the wings of a butterfly as a reminder. But I think I will try to write a post about openness each month, an idea inspired by my friend Leigh, who wrote several posts over the course of 2012 about her One Word, hope. In general I’ll just do my best to follow the word where it leads me, rather than try to capture it and bend it to my will. After all, that’s the whole point of being open, right?
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I’d love to hear what your One Word is, if you’ve chosen one, as well as your thoughts on the word “openness!”