On this day last year, I had no idea that my life would look as it does today, in any respect. I can say with great confidence that this has been a year filled with more change than any other year I have had. Part of me wonders if that is actually my doing: did I precipitate all of this change or did the change just happen to me? I suspect it’s a mix of the two. I can also say with great confidence that today I feel exponentially more hopeful than I did one year ago. And I hope that these 365 blog posts have made others a little more hopeful, too. If so, then I achieved what I set out to do in my writing in 2009.
There are so many reflections I have on this year of writing about hope, so many things I’ve learned about myself, about others, about my community, and about the world as a whole. However, one revelation stands far above the others: when I actively, passionately search for something, I will inevitably find it because I will not give up until my task is done. And the truly remarkable thing is that yes, if I span the globe I can find millions of pieces of hope “out there”, though the pieces of hope that mean the most to me are with me all the time. I carry them inside of me.
Now what will I do next? I’ve got overflowing buckets of hope; how can they be put to the best use? My pal, Laura, asked me this question about two months ago while we were at dinner. Without missing a beat, I told her that for the next year I’d do one thing every day that used all that hope to build an extraordinary life. The answer just sprang from my mouth, no thought required. It was a wish my heart made.
So here we go: beginning tomorrow, I will write a post every day in 2010 that will describe the one thing I did that day that put me one tiny step (or one great leap) closer to living an extraordinary life. The wheels of change are well greased from the events of 2009, so I expect more big changes in 2010. My friend, Kelly, has had a mantra all year of “begin again in 2010.” She’s a wise woman, someone who is both a friend and a mentor, and I’m taking her advice.
The final thought I have as I close out this year relates to nature, a topic from which I’ve drawn a lot of hopeful examples. It’s a butterfly analogy, though not the stereotypical one of beautiful re-birth. When a tiny catepillar wraps itself up in a cocoon, it purposely constructs the cocoon to be very tight so that the butterfly has to struggle to emerge. It has to wiggle and turn and twist, completing exhausting itself inside the too-tight casing. There are oils on the inside of the cocoon and when the butterfly struggles the oils are distributed over its wings. It will not be able to free itself until the oils are distributed evenly over its wings. Those oils build a layer over the butterfly’s wings that keep the wings from breaking apart when it flies. Without the oil coating on its wings, the butterfly would break apart the moment it tried to fly.
I think about my own struggles, and the struggles of the world, through the lens of the butterfly. The twisting and turning is a painful process. It wears me out, and yet that struggle is so necessary to my development and success. I would never be able to fly without the distribution of its lessons throughout my life. I have struggled long enough and my struggles have done an excellent job of building up the foundation of my life. So let the flight begin toward my castles in the air.