Today I finished the last big chunk of work before I head off for Christmas vacation. There’s still plenty of follow-up – cleaning out of email, filing of papers, planning for January – mostly mundane tasks that will keep me dully busy for the rest of the week.
But for the first time in over four months, I feel like I have time to breathe. I can still see plenty of bumpy stretches ahead in 2011, but I expect that my immediate day-to-day work life will settle back into its familiar if slightly unsettling routine once I return after the holidays and have sorted through the new supply of email that is my daily destiny.
This gift of down time, coming at the commencement of a new year, turns my thoughts to the question of what happens next. I’ve never been the type to read the last page of the book first, but when it comes to my life, I’ve always wanted to jump ahead – to know how the chapter, if not the story, ends. But after 50-plus years on planet Earth, I finally understand that life unfolds at its own pace, in its own way. The route often shifts unexpectedly, but none of us can change our ultimate destination.
Life is a mystery: great and terrible, small and precious. Too often we focus solely on the goal and ignore the magic that awaits us on the journey. Arriving here again at year’s end, I could make my usual resolutions: get in shape, save money, write my book, entertain more often.
Instead, I think I might resolve to enjoy the wildflowers on the side of the road and be less concerned with harvesting a crop. What will grow in that field, I wonder, if whatever lies waiting deep in the soil is allowed to sprout on its own, undisturbed by the tiller and the seed, the hoe and the farmer? What would I harvest if I watched for miracles instead of trying to create them?