My guiding word for this year was path. The first time I picked a word, after I’d stopped making resolutions, it was retreat. That was followed by freedom, home, and then nourish. Every time, they never turn out exactly as I expect, end up meaning something other than what I predict.
In those years I did other practices at the end of the year, reflecting and projecting. This year I tried a few. I did both December Reflections and Unravel Your Year with Susannah Conway, but only half-heartedly, completely half-assed. Others I normally do and mostly enjoy I skipped altogether, completely opted out. This is a mix of two things — I’m tired and need to rest almost more than anything, and I feel so utterly IN my experience that being quiet feels more appropriate than answering prompts or making predictions.
This is what this year’s word did for me. It allowed me to sink into my practice, to deepen both my discipline and devotion. It made me kinder to myself, which in turn makes me kinder towards others. It taught me how to stay with my experience, not abandon my discomfort or give up and numb out. It gave me courage, vulnerability, the willingness to be wounded, and confidence in the way Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.” It taught me to be patient, to trust that if I waited I would know what to do. The way I described my word at the start of the year was this:
Path carries with it a sense of devotion — love, loyalty, and enthusiasm. It’s commitment, immersion, dedication, discipline, and joyful effort that springs from a place of love and attention. On a path, there’s a clarity of direction and intention, but also unexpected obstacles and surprising beauty. I show up, open up, stay with what arises without an agenda, thus sinking deeper into my innate wisdom and compassion, experiencing my life more fully. I encounter clarity and simplicity, ease and contentment, stability.
For maybe the first time, what I predicted for my word turned out to be pretty accurate. And now, at the time when normally I’d choose another word, I don’t feel the need to. For a while I toyed with the word “mercy” for 2017, but it didn’t really stick, and I felt particularly unmotivated to find another. Then the other day, I thought to myself (and posted on Facebook), “I think rather than picking a word for the year, I’m going with, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen.'”