So, my WOTY for 2016 was TRUST.
It hasn’t been the most satisfactory word. I haven’t felt it working the way I have tended to feel other words. That said, that’s not really unusual. Sometimes I only see how the word worked in hindsight, as I write my year end wrap up.
That would be today. That would be the case this year.
TRUST is a tricky word. Who do you trust? What do you trust? Why don’t you trust? People and life circumstances work so easily into this equation that the meaning can change every day. Frankly, I think I actually forgot about it most of the year. Not purposely, but…well, yeah. I did.
And then the end of the year happened. Suddenly I was without the anchor of my yoga studio and the group of friends, my sangha , that had built up there. I was looking for new teachers, a new studio. Trusting that I have the yoga needed to be discerning and to land safely.
Then Trump happened. I absolutely admit to my “bubble” living, here in sunny California (and may I say I have never been prouder to live here than now!). It did not, for one minute, occur to me that he would win the election. The absurdity of that was…apparent? laughable? ridiculous? NO idea on Tuesday morning as I stood in line for an hour and a half with people literally dancing out of the polling booths that by the end of the night I would barely be able to breathe as I attempted to make sense of the horror of the day. Since then I have ricocheted between fear and horror and disbelief and disgust every single day. I have wept. I have made donations (with money I don’t have, but trusting..) to groups that will sorely and surely need our help over the next few years. I have worked hard to discern reputable news sources on good days, and hide my head from any and all sources on bad. I have lost faith, lost trust in my own country.
In the aftermath of that I am wary of people. What if I say the wrong thing? I don’t want to confront anyone, but likewise I am unable to forgive. What will I do in a situation of harassment? Will I stand up, will I retreat (I believe I will stand up, but can I even trust myself?) I am also wary of the rest of MY life…financially, physically, emotionally….I have disliked many a president, but I have never been afraid before.
And one day, as I sat here contemplating all of the things that were happening and spiraling down the rabbit hole that arises at times from one lone thought that turns me into a hopeless pool of flesh on the bathroom floor, I got my WOTY for 2017.
LIVE. Because, in that moment, and for several days, I did not want to.
Now before anyone freaks out let me say that I have never been actively suicidal. I am not a clinically depressed person…situationally, certainly, but I have seen real depression up close and that is, thankfully, not me. When I say I do not want to live, it comes from a deep and hopeless place that I think many of us occasionally feel and that is very hard to talk about. For me, it’s not that I would kill myself, but it is that if I could just poof away, I would. No regrets, no remorse, no thinking about anyone else…just get me the fuck outta here, please!!
And so LIVE. I felt I needed a huge word, one that would keep me alive in 2017, a guiding light, a north star, something I had to look to and say “I made a pact to stay alive this year….let’s see if it turns around”. It felt like my first word, YES, larger than life, dramatic, important.
Did I say dramatic? Because it was. Very, right? I mean, that first year I needed the dramatic, to be shaken out of doing absolutely nothing, isolation, drinking, hopelessness. YES was a lifesaver. But after a few days, and especially after I started to talk about how I felt (because as a person who doesn’t trust easily, I don’t share these things, they fester, and drama ensues) with people I love and respect, it started to feel wrong.
The thing is, life itself is a constant choice for each of us. We wake up in the morning and choose to move forward through that day. The fact is that all we have is this day, even closer, this moment. And unless we actually harm ourselves, we are choosing to live very day. So it seemed clear that, while I was very attracted to the drama of the word, I was alive and that wasn’t gonna change soon and the word was not helpful . I had chosen life every day under far worse personal circumstances than what I was facing and feeling now
And so I came back to the word TRUST. What had it taught me? NOT to trust. That my yoga studio would be there, that my fellow citizens were not insane, even my own instincts. And I can bring it deeper. Who do I trust? anyone, really? I hide my head in the sand about any number of issues, preferring to “not know” than to trust that anyone, including myself, can help me if I just tell the truth and allow them to. I spent a pretty horrible week in a very low state and could not even trust those few people that I DO trust, implicitly, to hold that for me. When I started to talk they did, of course, but I was afraid that they wouldn’t. I can’t live like that anymore.
I CAN’T live like that anymore!
And suddenly I saw how the word TRUST has worked on me over this year. It has brought me to a place where I realize that the old way isn’t working, that I have to be more open, authentic and vulnerable…tell the truth, ask for help and be me. Do I have it in me to BE me, seriously? after all these years? The crisis of not wanting to live has brought me to a place of needing to trust that, if I do, I’ll be ok.
Treacherous ground here, for me. Scary footing.
My WOTY 2017 is somewhere in here, not fully formed or recognized yet, but I know it’s there. It will follow on the heels of TRUST beautifully, because that’s what my words tend to do. They elevate me, they bring me to new heights, new lows, new victories and new tragedies…they spur me to action and to retreat…they help me do it all, to choose life every day.
And so I do and so I will, but I don’t need that to be my WOTY. That is my penultimate word, the word that caused me to take my first sip of air and will allow me, hopefully to exhale the last drop in peace.
I choose life. I choose presence and involvement however that plays out for me. And I choose to trust in that process.
I got a few more days and a couple of contenders. Stay tuned.