An overcast sky and a duet album by Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny has me in a reflective mood today. I think it’s prudent to pause at the close of a year, on the doorstep of another, and take stock of the road traveled and the journey ahead. I’m not the kind of person that makes resolutions; I prefer not to think of January 1 as some new slate or canvas on which to start afresh. It’s merely another opportunity, albeit with some celebration to mark the passage of time towards your goals and ambitions in life–a rest stop complete with fellowship, libations, and expressions of love and friendship.
2011 has been a phenomenal year in my life, even if the adventure at times frayed my nerves, tried my patience, and sullied my temperament. Professionally, I finished my second book and graduated with my M.S. in horticulture from Iowa State University. I gave 18 invited lectures this year from California to Virginia (love me some frequent flyer miles). I flirted with three different job opportunities, though ultimately none of them panned out, and at that probably for the better. The experience of interviewing and “going through that process” as they say in the world of job hunting was more than worth it.
Personally, I grew a lot into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I met some phenomenal people this year that have forever changed my life. As my professional life slowed down a little bit this fall, I made an effort to spend more time with my inner circle of friends, reach out to colleagues I don’t talk to as much as I should, and invested time and energy in getting to know and love someone really fantastic.
On the flip side of all of this personal growth was my garden, largely left to itself after June 1 when my summer spun away in a skein of line graphs, thesis chapters, and book photography. I missed it, a lot. I’ve never spent so much time away from it in my life, and frankly, it bothered me. My garden is a large part of my identity–my passion coming alive in the forms of living things. I’ve always said that gardens are expressions of their creators, and mine this year certainly mirrored me–tousled, full, and still resilient. Though I was away from it often, it carried on, and was there to greet me when I needed to separate myself from the rest of the world. There’s nothing more therapeutic than an ambling walk through the garden with little stops to pull weeds, snap pictures, deadhead, and prune.
I guess we write the stories about ourselves that we want to write, though I’m probably a little hyper-objective for my own good some days. But what 2011 reminded me of is that no matter how well I may architect a vision of myself or my work, the magic of serendipity always keeps any of my best laid plans unfinished. That I embrace now.
So what’s ahead? I’ve got another book to write, as you’ve probably read. I’ve got nine lectures booked already, but expect to add several more. The iris book (link above) comes out in early May, and you’ll hear much, much more about that in the months ahead. I’m so excited to share it with you! I’m plotting my next career move and considering whether I want to pursue my long-held ambition of a PhD or jump ahead to another business plan that’s formulated in the last six month. In one sense, 2012 is a canvas with so many possibilities, to paraphrase Sondheim.
So it’s onwards and upwards from here. Blaze on wayfarers into the bright beyond.