by MD Maurice
A letter to myself for the new year of 2018. Written for the Dear Me 2018 contest
Welcome to 2018. There is always this sense, when a new year begins, that we can shed the broken promises and pain of the previous year in exchange for hope and new opportunities. I also labor under the assumption that this New Year will be bring me hope, but my hope is a quiet and humble thing. The anxiety and fear that plagued me last year has no doubt followed me into this new one. Last year I felt as if I lived a life built on the shifting seismic plates of fate. This year my existence already feels much like the same unstable house of cards I have come to recognize. Where then is my fragile hope?
Hope, I realize, must be my constant companion even when it seems most elusive. This year, this year of new beginnings, I have promised to sing more loudly when the voices of fear are chanting. On the days when I feel myself pulling away, instead I promise to pull my loved ones closer to my chest. When each new day brings an influx of negative news stories and in their wake, that terrible rolling anxiety, I will turn to my work and find my solace in the electric ink of my own creation. I will write more. I will write more. Always this credo, always this mantra – for writing anchors me in all this ceaselessly churning sea of uncertainty.
I will try to know the difference between when I am nagging my daughter and when I am encouraging her. In the past year, my insecurities have no doubt blurred the distinction. She is developing into her own creature day by day, lovely and spirited. I must remember to celebrate her silly and goofy moments, her loud outbursts and raucous play, because it shows me she is untethered and still experiencing the beauty and carefreeness of childhood. Sadly, too soon, I know she will learn about the limits life tries to impose on you and all the ways in which the world can seek to censor your spirit.
There are other things I have promised, smaller things that exist inside the daily routines of my life. I will try to eat more fruit. I will try to stay hydrated and not eat every lunch at my desk. I will try to move my body more, take more frequent walks away from the workload. I will try to show my growing daughter that active grace and mobility are the key to becoming physically strong and fierce.
I know that in the coming year, I will need to open my eyes more. I will need to be in the moment. Life cannot be fully experienced through my iPhone or even a camera’s lens. I do not need to document every moment for the audience of social media. I need to treasure some moments, store them in the tender tissue of my mental memory because it is only through the threat of their fading, that I understand how hard I must hold onto them. The fragility of memory makes all our best moments so precious and still photos and wavering videos hastily captured, only tell part of the story. This year, more than ever, I promise myself to try to remember that.
This New Year brought us a new puppy. A household with dogs is really rather wonderful I think. I have been delighted to see how they have filled a special space in our daughter’s life. Dogs love in such an uncompromised and unconditional way. They love with their wiggling bodies, their expressive eyes and their unending loyalty and drive to please. This year I promise to pay more attention to the way we are loved by our fur kids and I will try to the find ways in which I can mirror that kind of unquestioning devotion in my own relationships. I will love with my whole self, unguarded and unapologetically, as much as I can. I will find the simple pleasures in a sunset walk with the people I love. I will learn to appreciate each snowy day cuddled on the couch and each crisp morning sunrise met with the enthusiasm of a puppy waking from a long night curled at the foot of our bed. I will allow myself to be fully contented by the sight of a loved one’s face returning home at the end of the day. I will allow myself to appreciate the bustling activity of a kitchen filled with the smells of dinner cooking and animates voices of my family gathering around me.
Most of all, dear me, I must promise to be hopeful and positive whenever possible. When the world gets darker, and it will, I need to work harder and find the bright spots. I need to place more faith in humanity when politics threatens to tear the world down around us. The commonality of our human connection is what binds us all. Stories of human kindness will always need to be told. I need to keep my eyes open for everyday opportunities to be more kind and to teach my daughter that having compassion is part of what makes us better people in our lives.
This year, I will make about love. Love of family, love of life. I promise to love and live life without the constant fear of loss. When I feel that creeping doubt, the threatening shadow of fear, I promise to love harder and without constraint. I realize that some days this promise will be harder to keep and so I also promise to forgive myself when my resolve wavers. I promise to allow myself to stumble, to breakdown, to fall apart if only to make me stronger on the other side of those bad days, those weak moments.
So, Dear Me…I hope we can make 2018 a year to remember for all the right reasons. I hope we can create memories, make positive changes and grow stronger both mentally and physically. I hope that love will trump everything and that I will allow myself to experience this life with the same ripe promise of harvest moon or a wide and sparkling sea or, in the case of our new puppy, an open window on a road trip with the ones we love.