Hope is a language: 2018

In 2017 Found made its national (and international) debut. The book features a selection of letters written to young girls about love, life, and God.

While I am, indeed, the author of Found, the narrator of those letters isn’t me anymore.

That girl, my heartbroken younger self, was so deeply in touch with her emotional core. She was brave and vulnerable and what’s ironic is that despite the title of the book, she was the very person I lost along the way.

When I outgrew the pain, the narrative changed along with so many different parts of myself that I am honestly still getting to know.

But the year is ending and so in this obscure tiny space I’ll say it softly: I miss her.

To the girl with all the words I’ve forgotten, this one’s for you.

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Dear Isa,

Dammit, we’re 29. We’re a year away from a brand new decade and even if age isn’t actually a marker of anything real in this life, I can’t divorce myself from the part that still feels like it matters.

To be fair, at 29 we glow with the non-subtle hint of promise, having done so much over the last few months. There was book publishing and school counselling and going back to school and moving out — twice!

Yeah, it was a whole flurry of doing and becoming which, from where you’re standing, probably sounds wonderful. I’m breathing it all in, reliving the stories that made up 2017, and I’m finding that they were all indeed different shades of good.

I mean, a lot of our dreams came true this year, kid, and I owe most of it to you.

You invested in hope, buried yourself in piles of it ’til it  became you. You didn’t know what it would yield or if it would even matter to stock up on the sweet possibility of something. But you knew no other way. You insisted on living like something wonderful was waiting just around the corner and, hey, you were right.

Cynicism be damned, that glorious and unwavering sense of  belief got you — us, me –here, right to the sweet spot of living.

I originally wanted to say that having all this doesn’t always make me happy. But writing that down now suddenly sounds so silly and contrived.

Because this year I was fearless and unapologetic. I read too little and laughed too much. I saved money. I spoke up.

This year I learned to listen better. I opened my heart to people again. Despite being highly self-aware of my deep flaws and personal inadequacies, I actually settled into my own skin without cringing.

It’s going to sound so corny to everyone else but this is what was true for me, the most:

This year, I let myself fail and win at love. And I woke up, on many occasions, to quiet contentment, to the idea that I was exactly where I needed to be.

So, Isa, screw happiness. Happiness is for the people who are done and we are not done. Not yet. Not by a long shot.

You’re not always going to get a year like this. Some will be long and gruelling, while others will be quiet and uneventful.

I need to write this down to fuel that solitary hope of yours. You need to see it for yourself that some years are so special. There will be times when God will let the sun shine for longer than usual and when He does, there’s nothing better than to simply bask in it.

You say this quite a lot before New Year’s Eve. You whisper it to yourself like a prayer: next year will be my year.

I just want you to know that in 2017 that statement will actually be true.

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My current desktop wallpaper features this quote by Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.” And it’s true. You’ll go on thinking that the tiny things don’t add up to much — the relentless hope, the mountain of questions, the words that you think are so damn pointless.

But all those things are the makings of my life and they have profoundly shaped who I am today: 29, writing all this down the night before 2018 begins, afraid because the last few hours of the year feel like the slipping away of something good.

I am holding on to the sunshine a little longer tonight as I re-learn what it means to hope. The truth is that I have forgotten how to do it well. Hope is a language and my fluency has gotten rusty over the years. But I’m calling upon your courage to hope again, to hope still, to hope some more, even when everything around me is changing. I am writing to you because I want to face 2018 with a heart that is whole and unencumbered.

This feels like the best place to start.

Love,
Isa
12-31-2017

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