I’ve told y’all before about my year-end habit of choosing a word to bring me into the new year. I’ve come to look forward to this tradition. So much so that around November I start catching stray words in my consciousness like a butterfly net. I don’t seek them out, per se; I just, sort of, ready myself for them, and sooner or later, one or more words find their way to me. Last November was no different…except that the word(s) didn’t come.
I am a collector. I took one of those workplace assessments years ago, and that was one of my top 5 traits. I didn’t even see it at first; it took for my manager to point out my cubicle—wallpapered in index cards covered with quotes I’d gathered over years from reading and writing and brainstorms—for me to notice it. After that, I recognized it more and more. Turns out, I collect quotes, books, music…experiences, memories—acquaintances and friends. (That last one sounds less creepy than ‘I collect people’.)
With all that practice collecting, I’ve had almost no experience with letting go. So, last year, my word was ‘release’. I managed to let go of some external things, but I don’t know that I actively released anything significant from my mind or my heart. My biggest lesson on release came from the outside in, when a friend went quiet on me. I’m talking radio silence. We hadn’t had a fight, and they hadn’t expressed any upset. They were still active across social media, so I knew they were safe and healthy and all. But they just stopped responding to me—no memes, no gifs, no ridiculous news headlines, nada.
I reached out one day, as usual, but got nothing. Then I reached out a second time…then a third (over a few months, not back-to-back). What’s the digital-age equivalent of ‘return to sender’? Because that’s what happened. I thought about it, prayed about it, consulted friends with more objectivity and greater emotional intelligence. That’s when it occurred to me: I was on the receiving end—I was being released.
It was confusing, hurtful, and then enlightening. I didn’t know what I had done or if I had done anything. I didn’t know their motivation or if they just woke up one day and decided, “Nah, I’m good.” What I did know was that my radio-silent friend had chosen to do what was best for them, and I survived. Part of my difficulty with releasing, especially when it comes to people, is I always want everyone to be okay. But that isn’t realistic. When this person released me, they had no idea how I would handle it—if I would be ‘okay’, but they didn’t let that stop them from doing what they needed to do for them.
Radio-silent friend reemerged some months later before the end of 2023. By then, I was holding our friendship with an open hand—it was lovely to have it, but I could also do without it. I’m going to try to apply this perspective myself, an ‘inside-out’ job if you will. I will reflect on the things (and people) that I need to release, and I will remember—having been on the other side—that they, too, will be okay. They will survive.
December rolled around, New Year’s Day came and went, and I still did not have a new intention for 2024. But as January got well underway, I began to wonder if the reason I didn’t have a new intention for this year—the reason a new word hasn’t settled into my spirit—was because I wasn’t really done with the old one yet.
It’s clear to me now that I have more to learn about how to release. So I guess I’m carrying over my intention into another year because I am nothing if not a good student.
Do you have any unfinished business from 2023?Leave a Comment