Advent, Introspection, and Shifting “Success”

I’m writing this on the first Sunday of Advent. Among other things, Advent is a season of waiting and preparation—and a fresh page, as the start of a new liturgical year. For me, it’s also an introspective pause before the dayjob season ends and the regular New Year begins.

But I think most people turn introspective, this time of year. That’s what all the year-end wrap-up posts and summaries are about, right? They’re a chance to tie up loose ends and look back over our shoulders before turning the next corner.

“Winter Morning, Charlevoix County,” A.Y. Jackson (1933).

What did you accomplish this year? What goals do you have for next year?

Where are you, right now? Are you happy, here? What will you change, as we move forward again?

So our thoughts run, as the days get cold and the nights grow long. In this weather, there’s more space to spend time with yourself.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll get to the lists of “What I Read in 2018” and “What I Did in 2018.” But for today—I’ve realized something, in my introspecting.

Years ago, I wrote a poem entitled, “What I Want.” You can read it here, but this is the pertinent stanza:

I want you to find me,
Some Tuesday afternoon
When we aren’t doing anything.
I want you to pause,
Just for a moment,
And say,
“I read your story –
It was really good.
I liked it.
I’m so proud of you.
Well done.”

And you know what?

I think I’ve found precisely that, but it wasn’t in the place I expected. It’s like the thing where you see someone out of context and don’t recognize them. So much our perception is built on preconception, the essentials get clouded.

Sometimes, I think, our goals are closer than we believe. It’s just that we want so badly for things to look a certain way—we don’t always realize when we’ve attained them. Maybe this is why the idea of “success” is so slippery. We clutch at specific images—book deals, signings, awards, fans. But sometimes, those are stand-ins: symbols for something deeper.

What do you want, really? Have you already found it?

Something to consider, as the year passes ever more quickly away!

-KT

What I’m Listening To This Week

More Ešenvalds! Yes, “Long Road” is the same ethereal, dreamy choral music we’ve been hearing a lot lately. But it’s all too pertinent right now. I might be crying.

Posted on December 3, 2018, in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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