Each year around the beginning of January, I pull out all my old journals from the past year (3 is the count for 2009) and try to remember where the year went. It’s a good discipline for me. It helps root me in the past but launch me into the future.
2008 was a year of establishment. I actually transitioned out of academia and got my first real job. With that, of course, came real bills and taxes and all the hard bits about being a grown up. I owned things, which was fantastic, until it came to moving those things across town in a u-haul. I made real decisions and learned that people would trust me with real responsibilities. Terrifying.
2009 was a year of settling. Not the bit of the definition that implied compromise and disappointment, although there was some of that. More the part that connotes arranging, or adjusting, like “tommy settled into his new school” or “the new house settled into its foundation”. 2009 was a year of adjusting. If 2008 was the beginning, 2009 featured the harder work of modifying, tweaking, and sometimes tearing down and trying again. In establishing patterns and relationships, life seems new and exciting. In settling, it seems permanently slightly off. Things are mostly right, but somethings not quite right. You rearrange, and stand back and look, and think, “hmm…not yet” and rearrange again.
I continued my job as a research assistant, with my job ever-evolving, nearly always after I thought the settling was finished. My group of friends dissolved as a group, but the individual relationships grew and flourished. I like the imagery of dissolving. If you dissolve salt in water, the elements are still there, but hard to grasp at. The whole has been changed, made stronger, more memorable by the transition. I worked hard at living with strangers in the city, but got found that I was compromising more than adjusting. I left and moved out to a beautiful house with wonderful community in Virginia. We continue to settle into the house and into the lives of each others. After much inner turmoil, I joined a church in 2008 and this year taught me the hard, selfless work of committing to a body and loving it even as your own self.
2009 was a good year. Good like the way you feel after spending an afternoon raking or shoveling. There is still work to be done, and you probably have some blisters, but the path is clearer now than it was when it started.
The future is here, and I think it looks bright.