I like to do my New Years resolutions in the Fall, but this year I’m not setting any goals. Instead I’m picking one word to guide my year and serve as a personal line of inquiry. My word for this year is Flow. In many ways this is a word that chose me. Let me explain.
Live like a plant.
Earlier this year I did a project on renewal and wellbeing. While conducting research in Colorado, I met someone who told me that he wished he could live like a plant. He explained that plants don’t need anything extra. They’re designed in the most beautiful, simple way where their natural default state is one of vitality. I found this to be quite profound. I’d never considered that maybe our bodies and minds can guide us to our healthiest, happiest state all on their own. Maybe we don’t need anything extra. Maybe if we simply nourish our bodies and let them slip into their natural rhythms, then we default to our best possible state. It’s quite beautiful if you think about it.
Everything falls into place (but first it explodes).
This summer multiple things happened within the span of a couple of weeks that sent my world spinning. While I had little control over these events, my initial reaction was total and utter frustration. Couldn’t life just be easy for once? It felt like a bad joke. Instead of beating myself down trying to battle the circumstances, I decided to roll with the upheaval. And sometimes change is like this. It’s a choice that we have to make out of kindness, not because we’ve landed on the right answer.
This perspective led me to move with the momentum around me and as a result, it made me receptive to unplanned opportunities. Within a matter of months everything fell into place and since then life has changed drastically for the better. I’m settling into a new apartment that’s starting to feel like home. My little sister moved to San Francisco and for the first time in the 12 years I have family in this city. A couple of weeks ago I started what might quite possibly be my dream job.
Me and the old fisherman, sitting on the beach under the moon.
I planned to use my time off in-between jobs to catch up on life and get organized. In passing, I wishfully mentioned to a friend that I’d love to go on a beach trip. On a whim he generously offered me his family’s vacation home in Hawaii. Setting aside hesitations, I put myself on a plane to Oahu and off I went. One evening I drove out to Pipeline to watch the surfers at sunset. Ideas I’d been mulling over and procrastinating on for a while began to flow with real clarity. I pulled out my journal, started writing and didn’t stop until it got dark and it was just me and an old fisherman, sitting on the beach under the moon.
Oahu reminded me that my most natural, happy, and expansive state is when I flow. Flow is a word that I find both scary and exciting. It means relinquishing some control, but also being actively open to whatever comes my way. I think this year might just be beautiful.
What’s your word? How does it guide your year? Think of it less like goal and more like a personal line of inquiry.