Settling. Snow, smoke, and peace.


I’ve given in to the word of 2020.

It’s not like it’s been honking horns and gonging gongs all around me and I’ve been resistant. It’s not like there aren’t other good candidates. I’m not even sure this is the best one. But it is the one that has been quietly persistent through all my efforts to not overthink, and just listen.

Well, I have been trying to just wait it out, and see what whacks me in the head. And I have been trying to listen. With my ears, but mostly with my heart. And I have been, absolutely, overthinking here and there. Because there are very few things I’m really, truly good at, and abandoning even one of them seems imprudent.

But somehow today, a peace–like a dropping smoke in falling snow–settled over the word that I can’t shake. I was no longer just hovering over it, wondering impatiently if something better was coming down the pike and would flamboyantly reveal itself the moment I committed to the gentle friend that’s been subtly accompanying 2020 thus far. I was no longer hovering, but had fluttered down and alighted on it without my knowing. And I have to say, it is quite comfortable.

Are all the world’s words about to pounce and flaunt their wares? Probably. There may be confetti and fireworks in the wings, but I’m going to hunker down and follow the peace.

Ironically, Peace is the word that I’m going to journey with in 2020. This might be yet another shining example of my inability to see (or accept) what is, casually and tenderly, waiting right in front of my face.

Let’s look past that likelihood. Because we’re better than that.

At various times in the last three weeks, other words crossed my path and drew my attention for a romp in the hay. Courage was one of them. Mary Oliver was to blame, I’m certain.

Seductive, that one. As I hesitantly fit it into the picture of my life, it seemed a good fit. I could always use some courage, that is for sure. But while the idea of being brave is beautiful, it carries some baggage that I didn’t think that I needed this year. When focusing on courage, one tends—one being me—one tends to hug the line between courage and foolhardiness a little too tightly. And that particular line is a tough one to pin down in the best of circumstances. When I’m contemplating being brave, I need to be contemplating discernment even more, and I dunno, maybe 2020 isn’t the year to ask that much of myself; it seemed a dangerous line to flirt with as a year-long occupation. Maybe next year, Courage.

There have been some harder days, where the entire cosmos seemed rather set against me, and on days like these, some intriguing suggestions can bump up against the old antennae. I woke one morning and could think of little else but this terrifying (and hilarious, if you are in a sane swath of mind) poem from Bird by Bird, and how it may hold the key:

We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
discontent and
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
Your analyst is
in on it,
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband;
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective.

Philip Lopate,
via Anne Lamott,
Bird by Bird

That about sums it up some days. For a couple of brief moments, Paranoia seemed an excellent choice for 2020. Not exactly the word one wants to ruminate on, to meditate into reality, but definitely a word one could follow into the abyss without too much help.

The moments were brief.

But Peace…

Peace has been lurking since that first day the hunt for the 2020 Annual Words was on. It was the first word that popped into my brainpan, and while quickly asked to take a seat and pipe down, we’ve been gently hip-checking one another ever since.

I’m not going to get into all the facets of Peace that might be desirable in my life, or yours. That’s a rabbit hole we’d never escape.

What I will delve into just a bitty bit is the natural continuity of Peace as the next installment here. Thanks to some intense meditation and mindfulness practice, I’ve been doing fairly well with Here and Now, the Great Words of 2019. I mean, light years of progress still to make, but things look a lot more present today than they did a year or two ago, and that is a Big Win.

As previously discussed amidst the cookie sprinkles and ponderings of the previous years’ entries, I do spend some time in the past, sometimes lovingly, enjoying the soft feather warmth of nostalgia, and sometimes with a clench and a wince, bathing in the sulfurous pools of spite and regret. I spend some of today’s time on tomorrow, occasionally working within the requisite lines of responsibility and hopeful planning, but just as much working the worry stone into a faint sliver.

From the Instagram of my kid, who is brilliant.

But the rub of Here and Now that still leaves me raw–the component I am happy to take another year’s time conquering–is that sucking void of Wishing It Were Different.

Boy howdy is that one a spikey little pill. And that is precisely where Peace comes in. Because





I am Here. I am Now. And It Is What It Is.

Coming to terms with that one is going to take a bit more time.

So Peace.

2020 is a year for finding a little bit of peace in every circumstance. The ecstatic. The punishing. The blissful. The grueling. All of them–every one of them are all what they are: moments in time. Reality. And this year I’m going to try to recognize the things that I have control over, and the things that I don’t. And I’m going to find peace in both.

Also a bit more joy. 😉

Quiet Your Mind, by Zac Brown, in case the link dies again…

If you need me, I’ll be watching the smoke fall with the snow. By m’fire.

7 thoughts on “Settling. Snow, smoke, and peace.

Add yours

  1. I guess mine is Generosity. It’s what’s been nudging at me lately.

    Last year it seemed to be Humbleness. I couldn’t read anything without running into it.

    So, watching for more Generosity this year–even made a meme for it (which I’d add if I could)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: