I thought about setting a new year's resolution this year. Going through the possibilities, though, I was haunted by the familiar sound of them. They sounded like last year's, and the year before that, and the..........you get the picture.
For the curious, last year's resolutions were to read more, write more and run more. All the R words. Or all words that should start with an R, anyway. So I decided against a resolution for this year and committed to light a fire under the ones I set back in 2007.
Then I saw a Facebook post a good friend shared. She asked what one word would change your life in 2014. One word. Hmmm. I liked that. Simple, but with the right word, powerful.
At the same time as I saw her post I was reading a chapter in the book A Father's Heartbeat: 7 Virtues of Successful Fathers by Randal D. Day. The chapter was about gratitude. Having a grateful attitude as a father as well as teaching your children to have one. Dr. Day discussed the important role savoring plays in a grateful attitude. He says too often we're comfortable experiencing life as tourists, taking in as much as we can as fast as we can, never stopping to absorb the goodness and beauty in our presence. He goes on to say "The reason I am including the idea of savoring is that I have come to believe that being a truly thankful and grateful person requires an ounce or two of savoring in the mix. I don't think we can fully be appreciative of our children or their needs unless we are drinking in the moments we have with them."
I looked up the word savor in the dictionary. The definition stuck with me. Simple, yet powerful. This picture is now posted on the wall above where I'll be doing more reading and writing this year.
We took the boys to see my grandma Cartwright while we were in Ohio. She's nearly 90 years old. She can't hear much or see much anymore. In some ways it was a very sad visit with one of life's greatest cruelties. Aging.
My grandma did manage to share with the boys, at least in enough pieces that I knew the story she was trying to tell, about a time when I was a couple of years old. I was in the grocery store with her and snatched a banana from the fruit section. She discovered this when she noticed chewed banana pushing out from my stuffed cheeks through a small opening in my mouth. But there was no evidence of a banana peel anywhere. While my grandma looked for it, a lady standing nearby asked, "you don't think he ate the peel too do you?" My grandma looked at her, completely uninterested in hiding her disgust, and simply responded, "no, he's too smart too eat the peel."
I know the banana story well. My grandmother's told it to me hundreds of times over the years. And she can tell you similar stories about her other 50+ grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
My grandmother has lived a very simple life. Not an easy one by any means, but simple. She's never wanted for much, but what she has had over the years, I have a feeling she's spent a lot of time savoring it. Especially her grandchildren. She's spent a lot of time "drinking in the moments she's had with them."
It occurs to me that the older we get the more opportunity there will be for loneliness. Maybe the only cure for that loneliness, even if only brief, will be the opportunity to recall the moments in life we have savored. How often do we miss out on unimaginable joy today running around trying to pick more roses than the next guy, when the real victory is taking in the smell of a single one of them that will carry into tomorrow. I have long forgotten many victories in my life, but I can still smell the dirt of a freshly plowed field 500 miles and 40 years from here.
The one word that will change my life this year is savor. Whatever I do this year, I want to savor it. If I do, quite possibly, this will be a year to remember. A year from now. A few decades from now.