For a few years, I ‘ve noticed people have started adopting a “word of the year” instead of making hard-core pinky-swearing New Year’s resolutions. The word serves as a motivational goal or definition of what they hope their year will be. “Kindness” and “peace” are easier to think about than a pointed, “lose ten pounds” or “clean out the barn.”
When I remembered my blown resolutions from the past few years, I decided to join the crowd and have claimed a word for my own for 2019. But first, I want to go back and finish what I started last year.
My failed resolution for 2018 was that I planned to read the entire Bible. On the advice of righteous friends, I bought a chronological edition so I could follow along with clearly labeled daily readings. Since I’m talking about the Bible, I feel I have to be honest, so let me just tell you, Leviticus kicked my tail. It was a total drag, complicated and a little preachy. It slowed me down and eventually, life became complicated, so I stopped reading the Bible — or did I stop reading the Bible and then life became complicated? Oh dear, I’ve become the bad warning part of a sermon.
In order to redeem myself, this year, I resolve to pick up where I left off and complete my one-year reading in two years, even going back to re-do dreaded Leviticus, this time with gusto.
To add a new twist, my word-of-the-year is, “action.” While most of us are curious by nature, we tend to stop at the “I wonder” stage and never take action, possibly missing out on great things.
I’m not talking about juvenile actions like seeing how many unshelled peanuts you can fit in your mouth, or like the time my son wondered if a BB gun would shoot through his shoe. He took action to discover the answer (first repeating the redneck motto of “hey, watch this!”), and when he woke up from surgery, was all the more enlightened.
Adults are curious about things like, “I wonder if the old man down the road has any friends,” but rarely do we take action to invite him over to dinner. We say, “I’ve always wanted to learn to paint” but don’t take action to sign up for lessons. Our wishes and dreams shouldn’t remain wishes and dreams. We make excuses for living like Nike and just doing it.
We’ve become a society of travel that never happened, musical instruments never mastered, languages never spoken, collections never started, books left unread (Leviticus — guilty), letters never written, and sports never played.
It wasn’t but just a generation or so ago that Southerners didn’t have many opportunities to explore and learn new things. Limited incomes and rural settings had us watching South Pacific, reading The Farmer’s Almanac or joining the Navy to fulfill our curious nature. Actions and adventure were limited in our small communities.
Now, it’s as easy for us to catch a plane or take a community college course as anyone else. The opportunities are there for us to grab. Even if an obstacle like Leviticus stands in our way, we have the motivation and promise of the Psalms on the other side. In 2019, may our curiosities be endless, and our actions be bold.
This story first appeared on AL.com and in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times.