2018 is the year of…

It’s always amazing that even though you think you know everything about your closest and oldest friends, they can still surprise you. D is the only remaining friend from the original Texas quartet in San Francisco; his sensible yet deeply emotional insights on life always give me pause.

D, his wife S and I met up for drinks at an old haunts, Rye, for good laugh about the past before sampling the latest fruits of the Tenderloin’s extreme gentrification at the Saratoga. The subject of the new year came up. In between discussing celebratory festivities, D mentioned his tradition with an old high school friend.

“Each year we get on the phone and choose a theme for the year. It’s not a resolution. It’s more like a tone that you want to set…almost like an intention for the real change you want in your life. You have to distill it down to 1–3 words, which forces you to really think about the meaning.”

He continued on about this year’s process, which actually happened in person and about his selection. I was struck by the simple, bold way to enable change and growth. Also by the required self awareness and emotional intimacy between friends. I’d spent the better part of the past week attempting to choose a sustainable writing prompt. And I had gotten nowhere.

The conversation moved on and yet hours later, I was wide awake in bed with those words looping in my head. Clearly I needed to revisit my approach…or else risk waking up with a raging hangover on Monday and no focal point for Day 1.

Around sunrise I headed to the water. The ocean always forces me out of my head. Internal noise silenced by washing machine waves, the only non-beach sound was my breath. Of course, it is in these moments where the truth catches up and its impossible to hide. Sometimes it is breathtakingly liberating. Sometimes there is enlightenment. And sometimes it just hurts.

Distilling past years into themes was easy. 2014 was the year of bravery and exploration…literally. 2015 was the year of resilience and self-care. 2016 equaled experimentation. 2017, grit. I chewed on this…considered the consequences of these years. I’ve come out stronger but also a little colder… a harder exterior. Maybe this is just age. But I don’t fully buy it. The truth is I’m ready to open up in hopes of something bigger.

So I decided to take a page from D’s tradition and set an intention. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths of the salty air.

2018 will be the year of connection.