Practice Page: December 2014 Newsletter

It’s That Time of Year, Again

Years ago, when I was an undergraduate student we were on the quarter system: four quarters to each academic year and ten weeks of class to each quarter. I found ten weeks per class to be a truly workable number; it stretched out before me with an end in sight.

That’s still how I like to approach new things: a project, a learning experience, a commitment, and a new year. I like the feeling that it stretches out before me with an end in sight. And I like having a few ideas, possibilities, and plans in mind, even if I don’t know all that an experiment will encompass. Somehow, having an end in sight guides and grounds my process, as I make my way.

Months before the end of each calendar year, many of us have the beginning of the new year in sight, along with our desires, dreams, longings, and hopes for it. Our expectations tend to focus heavily on the beginning of the year, almost as though is was a magical moment that could miraculously transform us. In reality, the beginning of each year is only a small portion of the entire year, more the size of a postage stamp on a large mailing envelope. The stamp matters and so does every beginning, but it’s in the everyday, ongoing expanse that the magic and miracle are likely to be found.

A Future Writing Experiment

In your imagination, I invite you to see yourself a year from now, sometime in mid to late December 2015. You are sitting quietly and alone, but not lonely. You are looking back on the year 2015 and reflecting on the meaning it holds for you. You have with you a list of words you created a year ago; these were words that had a pull on you back then and you’ve been traveling with them all year long.

My Example List

List of Words that had a Pull on Me:  freedom, simplicity, service, friends

My Example Writing

“At the end of 2014 I decided to focus on minor adjustments to the way I live and work and be. This is what happened. I didn’t want to just value simplicity, I wanted to feel simplicity in my life, whatever that would mean. This motivated me to identify what felt complicated. One thing was obvious — clutter. I think I might be allergic to it, but at the same time I attract it. If I focused on creating clear, clean horizontal surfaces I would be removing visual clutter and add simplicity to my life. And so I started. Papers, books, and unused items got my attention.

Removing visual clutter helped me to feel more freedom and less distraction in my everyday life. What I saw as I looked around me was calming instead of irritating, mainly because I no longer saw undone tasks waiting — wanting to gobble up my precious time. I felt free to do more of what really mattered to me.”

It’s Your Turn Now

Why not start with your own list of words that have a pull on you?

After that, begin recording your imaginings from the viewpoint of the end of 2015. There is no right or wrong way to begin, and no right or wrong place to begin. So just begin.


Consider these words from Wayne Muller:
“Life is not a problem to be solved, it is a gift to be opened.” 

Laurie Mattila
© December 2014


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