Rather than make grand resolutions for 2017, instead I chose a single small word to guide me through the new year: focus. I’d been trying to do too much, I decided. I would be happier and more fulfilled if I did less, and with greater attention.
Then a bunch of unexpected things happened — my husband got sick, we sold our house — and I discovered that focus wasn’t the problem. When the situation demanded it, I was like one of Austin Powers’ “sharks with frickin’ laser beams.”
In hindsight, 2017 taught me that it wasn’t focus I had been lacking, but a sense of purpose. So that’s my watchword for 2018: purpose (or porpoise, if you’re from New Jersey).
But before we jump too far into the purposeful year ahead, here’s a roundup of a few times in 2017 when I remembered to pause and focus on the moment.
January 11 • The cafeteria at work feeds me a raw meatball. Surprisingly, I do not die.
Sometime in June • While stopped at a red light, I watch an old woman sway her bony hips to music only she can hear. I don’t have the courage to photograph her.
July 17 • My neighbor gets evicted and leaves behind a few tires.
August 6 • After a heavy rainfall, a leaf unfurls to reveal a tiny castaway.
August 10 • Sidewalk philosophy.
August 11 • During my morning walk a red fox stops in the middle of the train tracks, locks eyes with me, and then vanishes silently into the fog. Breaking my stride makes me notice wheat sprouting where it has fallen out of the boxcars.
August 13 • Another morning walk is interrupted — this time by a drunk, injured neighbor. He survives.
August 19 • The Washington Post becomes inexplicably fixated on poultry disassembly.
September 4 • Another neighbor moves away … without his belongings.
September 30 • Among the crowds at the Renaissance Festival I spot this child, readying his pirate-ship crib for a nap. The light reminds me of Vermeer.
October 1 • I drive downtown to watch my sister run the Twin Cities Marathon but miss her somehow (it’s her first 26-miler, and she finishes in four hours). Since I’ve already paid for parking I explore the ruins under the Stone Arch Bridge.
October 23 • Visiting my folks in Florida. I get up every morning to watch the sunrise.
October 30 • I stand one last time at the edge of the vertiginous steps in my house.
November 27 • Ash from the California wildfires colors the sunrise on this crisp morning.
December 5 • I pity this model and hope he has other gigs he can put in his portfolio.
December 17 • The tire marks in the fresh-fallen snow remind me of a hand-loomed blanket.
January 1, 2018 • The new year begins with a supermoon and with a quiet reminder that time is fleeting, and precious.
Here’s to a renewed sense of purpose in the year ahead.