Chicago, Illinois. January 1, 2010. I woke up next to the woman I love with a smile on my face (after the best New Year’s Eve celebration I’ve ever had) but also with absolute certainty about my word of the year: leap.
For a few years now, I’ve been choosing a word that would guide my actions and thoughts throughout the next 365 days. Last year, I wrote about that word on I Tell Stories for the first time, and a lot of people seemed to embrace the idea.
Last year’s word was “create,” and I had done a good job in 2009 to use those six letters to give some definition to the way I lived. This year, I had to pick something that was reflective of the changes I knew were ahead of me. After Maria sent me a link to this wonderful post by Luisa Weiss, I was sure that the word for 2010 would be “leap.”
Over the next few days, I began to ponder: why did I even pick a word of the year in the first place? What real value and meaning did this process have in my life? Why was I sharing my word with everyone here on this site? What did it mean to me, to everyone that read this post, that I was sharing my yearly direction in public?
Other things began to weigh upon my mind: I knew 2010 would be a year of change, but 2009 had brought along quite some change as well. I hadn’t been apprehensive about those changes at all. Did I really need to guide my year by “leap” when I had done a fairly good job of leaping in the past? And why was I looking for change — in my career, my location, my lifestyle, my relationships — this year so badly? What did it mean that I was unbalanced in my present circumstances? Why hadn’t I found peace with myself — something I lacked considerably in 2009 — when I had accomplished what I had set out to achieve at the start of the year?
I decided not to write my “word of the year” post upon my return to Toronto or my subsequent return to DC because I needed to ask myself why; everywhere I have been, everything I have done in the past year — what did it mean?
People often find it unnecessarily esoteric when you tell them that you’re searching for meaning. What does “meaning” even mean, after all?
I’m planning to explore that, this year. I’ve chosen meaning as my word for the year because I’m tired of doing things, making decisions because they are easy or make other people happy or even because they just feel right at the time. I want my decisions on what I buy, what I eat, what I say, where I work, where I live, how I spend my hours, who I interact with, what information I’m consuming, what I’m creating, to all be driven by a sense of meaning, reflection, and understanding.
I’m hoping that my search for meaning will also help me find some balance, some peace with who I am, right now — something I lacked in 2009 and was evident in the way I behaved.
This new year, I’ll be leaping, for sure, but instead of running off the edge and waiting to be caught, I’ll stand at the precipice, ask myself why I’m jumping, and then commit myself to the skies ahead with intention and purpose. And meaning.