I tried to write it all for you. I tried to explain the path that this year took with reflection and insight, describing each significant event and how it shaped my world. I tried to make it all make sense and deliver a grand synopsis of lessons learned and the power of both love and loss. But I can’t. The year gave me too much to summarize in a few words here, and if I were to finish writing the details in their entirety, you would turn away by paragraph three. Or four. Definitely by paragraph five.
In the spring of the year, I remember exchanging emails with a writing friend in Australia, where we both had a sense that 2016 was going to be something special. I can still see the words in my mind’s eye, “Something big is going to happen this year – I can feel it.” Perhaps I should have been more specific.
Seven significant events occurred this year, and if each had happened individually, it would have sent me into a tailspin. Yet, one at a time, despite the emotional blow it struck, one would have been manageable. I would have been able to say, “This hurts, but this is part of life, and there will be healing to come.” When stacked up in rapid succession, though, with no time for healing between, you realize your life is in survival mode. Much like when a plane experiences mechanical trouble and the pilot determines that she can get you to your destination but we have to toss out nonessential items in order to lighten the load so the remaining fuel can sustain us. Like that. This year has been like that.
So, I began tossing out things. Habits that didn’t serve me. Belongings that didn’t enhance my life. Behaviors that no longer reflect me. That’s what loss does. It forces you to reexamine everything.
I grant myself permission to break my own rules. The ideals I have been living by are no longer appropriate as they fit within a different jigsaw puzzle. It is up to me to discover the pieces for this new puzzle. I have found my corners and even my border is mostly in place, so now it’s a question of filling in the center to create the picture. I am making things up and adjusting as I go. — Xan Holyoak
The words above kept resurfacing during this year and became a guide for me. The words, written by my friend after her life-altering loss, reminded me that I get to choose. I don’t have to live by any set rules or conform to any established social norms. I can break my own rules. I can find a way to live in this forever-altered life, establishing my own boundaries and choosing my mode of transportation.
So can you.
With that, I am declaring the Year 2016 officially closed. It held for me more heartache than I ever imagined, it showed me more love than I could hold, and it stripped my world down to only the most essential parts for moving forward. I have everything I need. I am traveling light. I am moving into 2017 with my own rules.
So can you.