I awoke early with the cats this morning and watched the light outside my kitchen window shift from deep blue to grey-blue to soft white as I ate my steel-cut oats and almond milk. It was a morning like any other, except this one was the last of its year. I had some thinking to do. What would be my word for 2013? I still hadn't decided.
And then I was smacked by a stomach bug. It's one that I think I've been fighting since Christmas Eve. It finally won, and I climbed back in bed, where I was joined by wild dreams of traveling to Paris, only to find that I was in a high school gymnasium and I had to cheerlead again, decades after my cheerleading days. I had, of course, forgotten all the words and motions, and everyone was furious with me. Not a promising sign for 2013.
And yet I woke up with the word for the year in my head. "Persevere." I've had to persevere through some pretty terrible times over the past several years, and I've managed to do it, but I have been wondering whether I could do it this time. I must persevere as a writer now more than ever when I have two manuscripts trying to find homes and a whole bag of worries and fears to carry with me as I move forward.
"Persevere" is not as pretty as "inspire" or "grace," my words from 2012 and 2011, but it is real, and it's what I tell my students to do all the time. It's also what I need. Perseverance gets harder for me as I grow older and I fear I won't achieve many of the things of which I've dreamed. I am not as patient in the face of rejection now, something I see loads and loads of as a writer. I see successes, too, but I don't linger on those. I tend to linger on my failures. "Persevere" will require a whole slew of other words like "hope" and "optimism" and "try" to come along for the ride.
As Samuel Beckett writes: "Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
Here's to 2012 and to failing better. I wish you all love and adventure and a dose of perseverance in the coming year.