Farewell, 2017

Fairy Bridge
Fairy Bridge at the Overland Park Arboretum.

Once in a great while, a calendar year comes with a singular message; a lesson that seems to start on or near January 1st and come full circle by the end of December.

If I were to articulate the big lesson of the last 365 days, it would be this:

We must work hard to achieve our dreams, but we must also learn to accept what life gives us.

This is a difficult balance to strike; a terrible contradiction in so many ways. Nothing hurts more – and few things are harder to accept – than lost dreams. The bigger our dreams, the harder we work to achieve them, and the greater the disappointment when we fail.

But not every dream is meant to be realized, and not everything is under our control. Sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes the failure of one dream opens up other options or allows a greater appreciation of the blessings we have. But sometimes failed dreams are just failed dreams, and there’s nothing we can do except face the loss, process it, overcome it, and let it go.

I know this is a lifelong lesson that can never be mastered, but I’m trying to more conscientious about it going forward; to remember to enjoy the life I’ve built and not dwell so much on dreams lost along the way. To never give up and yet, occasionally, to give in. To relax once in a while and enjoy what is, instead of stubbornly forcing circumstances toward what I want them to be.

Not that it’s a bad thing to want, but sometimes I think we could all do a better job of controlling our wants rather than letting our wants control us.

It’s been a good year in so many ways. I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I’ve had a lot of wonderful time with my family. I’ve traveled to new places and finished publishing a trilogy. I received some great editorial reviews, and I’ve successfully taken on new challenges at work.

At the same time, I had to come to terms with important dreams that didn’t work out or come together as expected. There’ve deep disappointments along the way, and processing them has taken an extraordinary amount of time and energy. Uncertainty has reasserted itself as a constant companion in my life. In past years, uncertainty has been a most unwelcome companion, but in 2017, I started to make peace with it.

Tomorrow is a new day and a New Year, and 2017 has given me the strength to step forward into the unknown. I’m not really sure what lies ahead, but for the first time in a long while, I’m okay with that.

Happy New Year to everyone! Thank you for walking this path with me. I look forward to more adventures with you in 2018. Wishing you and your loved ones all the best!

9 thoughts on “Farewell, 2017

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  1. Lost dreams—I have mourned nothing else so deeply in my life. Not even the loss of a loved one. Yet I have to say that my life has become something I could never have dreamed. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Peace for the New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your lesson of 2017, Karin. Life is never what we expect it to be. According to the Stoic philosophers (whom I’m reading), the only thing we can control is how we respond to events. As cliched as it sounds, sometimes our biggest setbacks lead to our greatest outcomes. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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