As I pondered what my theme would be for 2013, a friend told me about her own goal-making for the upcoming year, which is based around aiming for desired feelings rather than achievement-oriented goals. I did some poking around, and liked what I saw. Happiness is never the sum of things we check off our list, but rather the product of how situations make us feel. It's not that accomplishing our goals does not bring happiness, but goals are not just a phrase. For instance, goals of my past like "finish my thesis" were not happy-making in and of themselves -- the attendant emotions of pride and accomplishment were. Not to mention, there are plenty of accomplishments or things we have finished that haven't made us happy at all. (Hmmm...actually, completing my thesis may be among those).
I know I have a lot to decide this year, especially when the book is finished. Where will I live? How will I construct that life? What are things going to look like, wherever that may be? If I stated it to myself flatly as "Figure out where to live and how to do that," I know I would instantly feel panicked and destined to fail. Instead, I want to take a page from Rilke's book and live the questions themselves. I want to pay attention to how things make me feel, and no rationalizing, no neurotic mental backbends -- I want to go from there. The past, as ever, provides a fruitful place to mine. As I drove home on what has become my Rumination Road two days ago, I listened to this song, and thought back over the past year and the moments where I felt truly happy and at peace...or one, or both. I got choked up and turned down a side road, and kept thinking. I listened to the song again. And then, lighter, I drove home. In order to start thinking about what I want to embrace this year, here are the memories that embraced me first. In no particular order, my Greatest Hits of 2012:
1. Standing in bare feet in a 1960's cocktail dress on my 29th birthday, eating cake with a spoon straight out of the pan with so many Seattle friends around me.
2. Skiing in the first 10k ski race I had done in 10 years (thanks, Becky!).
3. Singing mournful country ballads in a two-person karaoke room with Elizabeth on Valentine's Day. Also, the surreal moment of singing "Ring of Fire" a couple of octaves higher in the room by myself, all full of ghostly reverberation.
4. Running in bare feet around the Cal Anderson Park baseball diamond on the night of Michelle's bachelorette party. That was springy, yo!
5. Camping with my Dad in Idaho on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene the night I left Seattle.
6. My mom and sister and I getting serious about Easter Brunch in Yosemite. I had seven mini-desserts. Dinner and conversation with one of my oldest friends in Oakland a couple of nights before.
7. Running on the beach in La Push during one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
8. Maggie and I taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island, walking ourselves to a sunny pub, and then treating ourselves to a wine tasting before ferrying back.
9. Sitting on a crinkly tarp in the middle of the woods, quieted down like middle schoolers, as we listened to a midnight troubadour at Doe Bay. (Trixie!)
10. Going on an 8-mile hike by myself and standing absolutely alone at a trail crossroads as the late afternoon light flared from behind Mount Moran. True gratitude.
11. Being whipped by the wind at the top of Jackson Peak with the whole valley spread out below, and good company.
12. Sitting on a sunny patio, post-Pride parade.
13. Fresh tomatoes and green beans and a glass of wine with my parents on our back deck.
14. Knowing that my family loved me during a hard time. Probably the most important one of all.
15. Holding my Grandaddy's hand and seeing my family in Ohio.
16. Dancing wildly with my college friends at my friends' Erin & Mike's wedding, with my best friend and her husband there, too. All staying in a hotel room together.
17. Every time I turn a corner and see the Tetons.
18. Rambling, long phone conversations while out for walks. You know who you are, ladies!
19. Bluebird skiing with my brother.
20. The aspens turning colors in the fall. Driving the curve of Oxbow Bend.
21. Treat Yoself days.
22. Leisurely Cinco de Mayo tastiness and conversation at the Owlery.
23. Shivasana, and in a similar vein of peacefulness, W.G. Sebald and compline at St. Mark's.
24. Cracking ice on the Snake River at the first hint of winter. Watching the fish dart past even in the cold.
25. Picnicking at Gasworks with dear friends on one of my last evenings in the Northwest.
Honestly, I could go on and on...which begins to feel self-indulgent. I mean we're already up to 25 here! And I've probably forgotten some, too. Lucky to have gathered so many special times together, like picking up smooth stones and sea glass. Common themes to all of this slip-slide through memories of the last year? Friends. Family. Connectedness. Meditation. Nature. Silence. Love. Those are the feelings I need to seek out again, no matter where I go. Here's to finding the way.