The Annual Words, 2021 Edition

So I found my word. I can’t get around it, and who am I to argue?

Fifth Annual Word of the Year. Deep Breath.

Rime Ice, a lá the earliest days of 2021

I’ve been thinking about this since well-before 2021 hit, and thinking about what these words mean. Every year I think I have to really revisit this, the intent of this exercise, of this intense ritual. Never in a million years would I have guessed it’s significance in my life, this choosing of one partner in crime, a word, for each year of my life. Never. But as usual, I don’t always have a finger on the pulse of things until they’re in my lap, and even then it is a gift.

I’ve been fiddling with a second term for Peace, but there should be nothing of this Inauguration Day even remotely hinting of a second term, not even in my Annual Words.

Still, to explain… I just couldn’t get past the total botch that was 2020. (I refer here solely to my own personal botch, with my own personal word. We could extrapolate, but let’s not; it’s been a beautiful day.) I didn’t give Peace a chance, if you will. I didn’t even remember we were chained together for the better part of the year. All my hangups aside, I wasn’t content with extending the reign–and not only because it’s Inauguration Day–but because there will always be more to glean, and for now, it is time for a new lens.

And the other morning, I opened my eyes from my meditation and every single thing showed ‘Caring’ to me.

  • There was the picture of the late Larry the Lizard that Kris (of Kris’s Dragon Spa) gave to us with Larry’s handwritten letter from his days at Dragon Camp.
  • A black and white photo of empty Galilean sandals and wooden bowl filled with water, soft towels lovingly laid by.
  • A real wooden bowl, now filled with pens, once crafted with care.
  • A wooden mannequin, Rachel’s, caringly and explosively posed with, ironically, careless joy.
  • A check stub… a music stand… and icon… a small jar of stones and a large jar of holy water…

How they all pointed to Caring for me isn’t important. What is important is that they did. With each blink of my eyes, I settled on yet another thing that showed me my new lens. Some were a stretch. This is true. And this is the point.

The Entire Point.

That when looking for virtue we find it. When we open our eyes and give them a focus, they will seek it out, and never come up empty.

And we need more of that in our lives. More seeking. More finding. Of Love. So each year I choose a word, to help me focus, and to help me see.

For 2021, Caring is the word.

Caring for you. Caring for me. Caring for the this one precious planet that we whir around on. Caring for All of the People. Caring for the person in front of me, and the person behind me. Caring for the task set before me. Caring for my creation, and yours. To Care, and to see the Caring all around. Because it is there.

After all the wrestling, it is kind of freeing to leave Peace behind to grow as it will, thanks to all the others, the words that came before it, and the words that will come after it.

The ones I leave behind are not done. They’re never done. They haunt me, and even when I haven’t done the best job of holding them, they still have become a part of me, made their way into my genetic code.

The words still to come I long for. I can’t wait. I want to gather them all in at once and learn from their whispers. But that is not how it works. This ritual, this deliberate taking up, is a slow boat, and that is the only way to the other side. One year. Take your time and savor it.

So what of the meaning of this ritual?

Each one of these words is an avenue to love. And an avenue to each other.

So when I lay one aside, I’m just coming at it from a different angle. That is all.

No abandonment. No leaving behind, really, just a refocusing, a new perspective, a new tack.

While Peace is worth spending all the time in the world on, it is not the only one. It is just the latest addition to the little army I’m building. I will spend time more time with Peace: as I exercise Empathy, as I remember how much I Don’t Know, as I work on being Here Now, and yes, even as I am Caring. As I focus on any other aspect of love, I will spend more and deeper time with each.

Because each word is just a different lens on the same world, and each year is just an opportunity to spit-shine that next lens. The Next Lens of Love.

If you need me, I’ll be on the hunt,

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