It’s a new year, and instead of starting with resolutions (which I’m always bad about keeping anyway), I’d like to begin with thanksgiving for all of the things I experienced, all of the things I learned, and all of the blessings I received in 2011.
I learned about disability. A bulging disc pressed a nerve and turned my life upside down. I learned dependence upon others. I learned to slow down because I had to slow down. An activity that had been a big part of my life for more than six years – biking – suddenly wasn’t. I learned a little about patience.
I learned about writing. I wrote more than I ever have before. If what I write on this blog is representative of my writing overall, and it is, then I wrote more poetry than I ever have before.
I read more than I have in recent years (possibly because I wasn’t biking). My reading was almost exactly, if unintentionally, in “thirds” – one third fiction, one third poetry and one third non-fiction. That’s a shift from previous years – more poetry. And of the non-fiction I read, a significant chunk was about writing fiction and poetry.
I learned that I like ebook readers (Kindle) and tablets (iPad).
I learned that I still cry at movies. And it’s still embarrassing. (I even cried at “The Muppet Movie.”)
I learned about publishing a book. I’m still rather amazed that it happened. It’s a lot of work. Writers generally don’t like to hear that they have to promote their work, and learn marketing and publicity. Writers want to write. But these days, writers have to promote and publicize, too.
I learned publishing also means trust. I trusted my editor, my publisher, my cover photographer and my cover designer. Trusting them was the smartest thing I did in publishing Dancing Priest.
And publishing means learning how readers respond. You hope people will like what you write, or be inspired or provoked or encouraged or challenged or something. But I’m still surprised. I’ve read blog posts and reviews and emails about my book, and I don’t feel gratified; I feel humbled. I’ve been brought to tears a few times.
I learned how much I don’t know. The older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know. I was a lot smarter in my 20s and 30s, or at least I knew a lot more then than I do now.
I learned about family. My oldest discovered he was to become a father again, which meant I discovered I was going to be a grandfather again. My youngest moved from Kansas City to Florida, and I learned, or relearned, that distance involves the pain of separation. I learned that my wife is a rather extraordinary project manager, with the remodeling of our kitchen, laundry and bathrooms and new flooring everywhere. I learned that my grandson loves to dance, and that he creates music in my heart.
I learned that my grandson and I are a lot alike – especially in how we’re learning about the world, learning with a child’s heart. I hope that’s something he and I never lose.
I learned I have much to be thankful for.
Photograph: Candles in Church by Vera Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.