My birthday falls on December 28. This gives me the distinction of taking stock of my life at the same time everyone else takes stock of the year.
Did I accomplish the list of personal goals I wrote out last January? Probably not. The list is always too long, anyway.
I’m another year older, but have I matured a bit more, too? Have I put away a few more childish things?
Before this COVID-19 business took the world by the scruff of the neck and made it sit in the corner and think about what it did, I measured my year by achievement.
By achievement, I mean writing. Was anything published, or was it all rejected? Did I sell anything or get a byline?
It is the elusive goal most close to my heart. Not wasting a moment of my limited time left on the earth means finally writing something good.
After four years of stops and starts, I completed a first draft this year of my big project, but an elective surgery at a private clinic in Ontario, and a long recuperation afterward, took up most of the summer and fall. Still, this driving need to push my goals before I get another year older caused me to engage a developmental editor (in December!) to work on the story, and my mechanical skills. If I’m disciplined with my time, perhaps I’ll self-publish (er…I guess we’re supposed to say, publish) it in 2021.
Knowing all of this, my lovely family bought me a one-year subscription to Masterclass for my birthday. This website offers teaching workshops by professionals in all kinds of genres. I was really only interested in the writers like Neil Gaiman, Aaron Sorkin and Margaret Atwood, but I might take in a class on cooking or the Art of Negotiation, too. So this year, instead of trolling Netflix late at night looking for some inane show, my husband and I will probably give our time to Masterclass videos.
Time. It’s so precious. We have so little of it.
The older I get, the faster a year seems to melt away—even the bad ones, like 2020. This year I was impatient, and grumpy about the government’s stupid decisions, and the imposition of silly rules. I was not humble. I was utterly self-absorbed this year. I thought about myself, and my own comfort, rather than the comfort of others.
Therefore, instead of achievement, I must return to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, to show me what should be my real goals for this year, and every year after that.
Do I have more love and joy in my circumstances, no matter what they are? Do I have more peace, more patience under duress and disappointment? Am I kinder, do I express more goodness in the face of irritation? Have I been faithful in all ways spiritual, physical, and emotional to God, and to the people who(m) I love? Have I been gentler and more self-controlled than I have been in gentler years?
These are the goals that bear fruit year after year, no matter how small the progress is.