I’m a little late to the party this year.
Each year, I choose a word to hold in mind throughout the year. It’s my answer to New Year’s resolutions, which never seem to stick. They feel like medicine. A word, on the other hand, evokes a feeling or a vision I can hold. So much more palatable than medicine.
And now, the caffeinated among you are pointing out: “But we’re five months into 2017.”
Touche, my friends.
Usually, the word comes to me fairly effortlessly. I start my year with it top of mind. Not this year. I racked my brain, thinking and thinking. Nothing. I finally gave up in early March, settling on some long, convoluted phrase I won’t share here because I can barely remember it.
I let the part of my brain fixated on this endeavor lie fallow. For, roughly, half of the year.
A decade or so ago, this would have been unacceptable. I would have berated myself for not being “on” this. But, having just entered a new decade of my life—I can safely say, with age comes wisdom.
The word finally came to me not because I willed it to, but rather because I sat my overtired, hyper ass down and allowed it to come.
2017 is the year of “allow” for me.
I was raised in a hard-working Midwestern family. I come from fairly stoic ancestors. Life and hard work were valued.
I have found there is no alchemy in that equation.
Sometimes our “work” gets in the way of what the Universe has planned for us. And it is only by sitting back, getting quiet and allowing things to flow to us, that they happen as they should.
I understand a large segment of the population will view this as passive, rather than wise. It is anything but the path of least resistance. As my eldest chooses a college and a degree in Applied Science that I never in a million years would have chosen, I allow. Despite how vastly different it is from what I pictured for him in life, I allow him to follow his gut. He has always had a strong gut feeling. Even at age four, his preschool teacher commented on how he pursued what he wanted with a dogged determination. I allow him the reins to his own life, and with those, the consequences that may come.
I allow my youngest, a bookish child, to struggle with the more down-to-earth tasks in life. From a lawnmower that won’t start, to organizing his messy bookshelves, I no longer rescue him at a first failed attempt. I allow him to struggle. I allow him the sweet feeling of mastery that comes when a seemingly difficult task becomes an infinitely doable one.
And perhaps most difficult of all, I allow myself the knowledge that life is not predictable. I allow living on that razor’s edge, not knowing what life will look like in a month’s or a year’s time.
No, allowing is not passive. In my experience, it’s pretty darn hard. It means fighting our natural tendency, the one our culture fosters, to control.
I guess I’m not the only one who sees the value in allowing. Ukrainian writer Vironika Tugaleva says: “So let yourself fall open . . . Just allow. Allow in love. Allow pain. Allow desire. Allow learning. Allow healing. Allow frustration. Allow uncertainty.”
If that sounds scary, it is. Sometimes. And other times, I am learning, it is an absolutely delicious feeling. It feels right.
Allow yourself the chance to experience it.