When I was small I often went to the beach with my parents. I loved the ocean. Oh~, how I loved the ocean. I loved everything about it: water, sand, sun, and especially I loved bouncing around in the waves. Occasionally, however, all that silly fun would come to a sputtering end.
Whether I was too caught up in my surf jumping antics to notice, or it was one of those sinister rogue waves you hear about, I don’t know. But sure enough, I would suddenly be lifted off my feet, tossed around, and then pushed all the way to the down to the ocean floor. There my limp little body would get dragged back and forth over the sand and rocks and shells. Helpless. Cheese grater-style. It was terrifying.
Now, I’m sure anyone who has been to the beach as a kid knows this experience well. Not a super big deal.
Except that it’s a unique kind of panic that comes out of nowhere. One moment you’re a mermaid frolicking in the surf with sunlight glittering off your golden locks, the next moment: scrape, scrape, scrape.
The confusion is absolute. You have no idea which way is up or even how far up is, because the one thing you are very aware of is that you’re farther from the shoreline than you were seconds ago. Up is a long, long way away. And that’s when it hits you: You’ve not only been pulled from the shallow end of the sea, you’re not absolutely sure how long those last, quickly gasped, two lungs full of air are going to last you.
In too many ways to mention, that’s kind of how 2016 felt like for me. I’m guessing it’s kind of been like that for a lot of people. But in my case, it got personal.
The beginning of 2016 was most definitely joyous, bouncing around in the happy waves of life (first a trip to Portland to meet my writing buddy and then hole up in a gorgeous house for a week-long writing retreat; also, I lost a bit of weight last year).
The end part of 2016 though…
Another anticipated writing-related trip and my first ever convention didn’t quite go as planned. In fact, it turned into me flat on my back in the ER.
2016 tried to kill me.
My first instinct is to go into 2017 with trepidation. For absolutely sure, our icons aren’t going to stop dying, and the political environment isn’t going to magically heal itself. To the contrary, things are going to get worse before they get any better. But all that is on the very fringes of my radar. I’m worried about me and my ticking time bombs (I’ve got two now.)
But you know what? So what.
2017 will be the year that I am going to make a couple of big changes. By big I mean bigly! Hugely, maybe. Tremendous, no doubt(※)!
I’m absolutely terrified of all the unknowns. There are so many things that can go wrong. But then again, there are so many things that can go right, right? I just don’t know, and I’m not smart or wise enough to play out all the scenarios and how I’ll react to them. Nothing is going to change unless I do. If there is one thing I think a lot of us (re)-learned from 2016, it’s that we’re all mortal and we really don’t have the foggiest idea long we’ve got on this mortal coil.
Right now I am that limp little body-of-a-girl realizing something has to be done. I’m looking around frantically trying to judge which way it up. Scary as change is, I can’t just continue to be scrubbed back and forth along the bottom of the ocean floor, My Life. So in 2017, I’m going to kick hard against the sand and the rocks and the shells and to that sparkly surface I see way up there. I have no idea how far it is or if these two lungs full of air are going to last me to the top. But I have to try. I’d like to believe I’ll make it, and again there will be sun on my face and diamonds in my hair, and again I’ll be happy. Deep down happy with what I’ve accomplished on my own.
(Side note: Because I have experienced again and again and am deeply aware of the tittering irony that seems to accompany me throughout my life, I’m hoping when I do break the surface I’ll look over and I won’t be a mile and half from the shore.)
I like this quote: “Ships in harbor are safe. But that’s not what ships were made for.” (John A. Shedd)
I’m going to repeat that to myself this coming year. My mantra.
I hope that everyone of you have an amazing 2017, that you stay mind bogglingly healthy and as much as possible sail away from the safe waters to experience new and exciting adventures, exotic islands and loopy mermaids bouncing around in the surf, because you deserve it.
Happy Year of the Chicken!
(※) I’ll blog about the big changes more when my ducks (chickens?) are more in straight rows and marching in time. Right now those bastards are all over the place.