A few days ago, I snuggled up in my bed and jotted down a list of goals for 2014. A new year, a new start–right? But as my hand quivered in the air, suspended over a fresh piece of paper, I realized that all the goals I wanted to achieve were nothing but glassy ideals implanted in my mind by all the over achievers around me.
I don’t want to work out more. When I plan out my schedule for the week, I don’t want to be consumed with thoughts of the YMCA and the twenty-four inch waist I desperately need to have.
I don’t want to make more money. I have enough money. If I can keep gas in my car and if I have enough to buy a sandwich for a friend on a semi-regular basis, then I’m much wealthier than I deserve to be.
I don’t want to travel the world. I love traveling, and I enjoy seeing new places as much as the next person. But I don’t ever want traveling to become the most important aspect of my life. No destination can top home. No new face can replace the faces of my parents and siblings.
Because I’m a list-maker, this frustrated me. If I wasn’t going to make plans to exercise or work harder or travel, what resolutions could I sketch out? Spending more time with family? Speaking with a more gracious tone? (Ha! I’d like to see that happen) What characteristics are going to define 2014?
Slowly, it began to dawn on me. I don’t want anything special in 2014. I don’t want to reach new peaks in my career or climb a mountain or win a major award. I just want to live.
And so I began my list.
In 2014, I want to fly a kite. I want to go to the State Fair. To bake more cakes. To listen to more records. This is going to be the year of popsicles. Of wearing orange coats and finally painting my bedroom and reading “Catch 22″. I want to see tulips, and eat ice cream on cones, and raid a bunch of Goodwills.
As I look back on all of my favorite memories of the past year, it’s not the big events that stand out. I don’t think about the television interviews, or the Christy Award dinner, or the several trips across the country to autograph hundreds of copies of my books.
I loved 2013 because of the pies I baked. I loved sitting in movie theaters with my family, and sitting on green lawns at outside concerts with my sisters, and sitting in cars on long road trips with my mom. I rested my head on the pillow so many nights and dreamed of swing dancing and the electricity of summer thunderstorms and my mom’s homemade potato salad. I loved hearing the laughter of my best friends. My eyes soaked up the majesty of the mountains of Oregon and the rain on the pavement of Seattle and the pizza on my plate in New York City.
The best moments in life aren’t just free–they’re small. They’re tiny and worthless and they slip by faster than a muddy kid trying to escape the notice of his mother.
But they’re beautiful. Those moments make me want to freeze life and just drink it up. To savor its fizziness on my tongue, cool and sweet like a strawberry milkshake. Life isn’t just a dance, it’s a polka! It’s the fastest, craziest, most breathtaking adventure ever and when you stop to listen to the music, you can’t help but tap your foot.
I can’t wait to live this year. I can’t wait to open my eyes every morning and squint at the sun or scowl at the rain or throw a pillow at my blinking alarm clock. My heart skips a beat at the thought of the conversations I’ll have and the books I’ll read and the songs I’ll learn.
Shauna Neiquist said it best: “I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard in clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that He gave life to someone who loves the gift.”
The best gift I’ve ever been given is my life. And that’s not something that just applies to 2014. I look forward to the future of this world, because I know that God gave me my life for a reason. And I’m going to love the gift.