2017: A Word (the first).

Sometimes you feel like you're exactly where you're meant to be, in a moment.

I overheard the conversation behind me, the sniffles that came out of my young family member. I sat listening, in my own truth not terribly dissimilar to the story unfolding barely within earshot.

I knew that ache, those questions, that overwhelming sadness. I know those almost more than I do their predecessors, hope and joy and ... love.

I tried, and as I often do, failed, at trying to relate to my young family member. Where I am and where they are in our separate lives are still so vastly different, in a way you don't grasp when you're young. There's just no way to know how truly complex being an adult is until you're in the thick of it.

"Here," I said as I yanked a thin bangle bracelet from my left wrist. "It says 'this too shall pass.' It helped me to remember when ... you know."

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I spoke too loudly, to hide the quivering in my voice. The cluster of bracelets on my left wrist have become my totems these past few years -- I wouldn't leave the house without them, each one a reminder, a mantra, to carry with me through these rough, uncharted seas of adulthood.

"It's real rose gold," I stated as I attempted to place the trinket onto a wrist not mine, in angle or build. "It just needs cleaned properly."

My young family member nodded as my chest tightened. An exhale, low and shallow, escaped my lips.

It's okay; it's time. You don't need it anymore.

I watched my young family member twirl the bracelet slowly, nervously, as they spoke to others noncommittally.

At least I tried. At least I tried.

*****

It took me halfway through this year to replace another lost totem, the one that held my word for 2015. On it, I did not place either of my words for 2016 -- honestly I'd completely forgotten about one, until reading my own (now searing) words last night, as 2016 came to a close.

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This is not my word for 2017, but more the undercurrent to every aspect of my life. My fatal flaw, if you will.

I was suddenly afraid the word I picked for this year, the one that keeps singing out to me like a determined funeral dirge, was a repeat.

It is not.

It is not fancy; it is not inspiring. It is not a word to warm the heart or soothe the soul.

It is a word of necessity, of militaristic order.

It is a forceful rise out of the trenches and onto the battle field, bullets fall where they may, as we are never really unscathed, without scars.

 It is not abandonment. It is a call to action, a call to arms.

When I hear this word within my own mind, visions of marching -- steady, exhausted, hardened, a child's hand in each of mine -- fill the movie playing behind my eyes.

Onward.

Life is too unpredictable to stay stagnate, to get incredibly comfortable. I am still rebuilding my life on the cusp of 33 and staying still for too long just makes you a sitting target. You must dig in your heels and propel yourself to keep ahead, or up. Like a shark, if you still yourself, you will cease to exist.

Onward.

I will never be without my baggage. I have made choices in my life that will forever tether me down, will forever bear weight upon these shoulders tattooed with faded wings. But I cannot let that weight hold me back, keep me from moving towards that horizon, to the place where the sky meets the sea.

Onward.

And perhaps this is indicative of my eternal impatience -- I cannot stand to wait to let life happen to me, I need to meet it on my own terms. Often before I am ready. Often when I am ill-equipped and tragically unprepared. Good things will happen, as will bad. Blessings will beget curses and tragedies will open up to redemptions and the only control I have over anything is myself, and I choose to keep going, keep growing, keep fighting and loving and reaching and climbing and pushing myself beyond any comfort I have ever known because that is the only way to fight the darkness, to become that which you are intended to be, to reach your full potential and realize your destiny. 

Onward. 

It is cold; it is broken.

It is not a victory march.

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Until I break into stars.

Onward.