By: Icy Frantz
Well, hello 2020.
Look at you. You are here, and I am not sure how that can be possible. Wasn’t it just yesterday when we were embracing the year 2000, having survived Y2K and Bill Clinton’s impeachment? We were all a little obsessed with Jen and Brad (they were married, by the way), Survivor and How To Marry A Millionaire. Our children were toddlers and I liked to drive around town to settle them, listening to the rock band, Smash Mouth.
Hey now, you’re an all-star get your game on, go play.
Blink. Those children have outgrown their car seats, Brad is no longer married to Jen (or to Angelina Jolie for that matter), and Donald Trump, also impeached, is living in the White House.
But we stand at the precipice of the new year arms wide open, and what awaits us is amazing. Oh, I hope it’s amazing. We have 365 days to fill. How will we do that?
What will you do with that gift, the gift of time? Will you take some for yourself, share it generously, spend it wisely? Will you stand on the sidelines, or jump in, with two feet, no matter how awkward or scary? How you choose to spend your time this year will make all the difference. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote so eloquently in The Little Prince:
It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.
For me, there will be no resolutions this year. No new gym membership. No ridiculously difficult diet to maintain. I am not going to read more, or curse less. Statistics have shown that by the time you read this article, most resolutions will be broken and forgotten. This year, I will try to incorporate two concepts that will help guide my 8,765 hours and look to the new year as opportunity or, as Oprah says, another chance to get it right.
When I sit down to write, just at that very moment when I have prepared my spot (yellow legal pad and a cup of coffee), my dogs, sensing that they are no longer the center of my universe, rush to the back door barking to be let out. I get up and let them out and sit back down, pen in hand, ready to write, and once again the dogs are barking, this time to be let back in. I get up and let them in. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
The dogs remind me how easy it is to be distracted. We have so much tugging at us, trying to get our attention. And, while that’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact, and figuring out what is essential and what is not can help shape the minutes, the hours and the days. A good friend once told me that when you say no to one thing, you are really saying yes to something else. I don’t know about you, but when I lose my focus and say yes to too many things, I wind up feeling depleted and getting nothing right. Sometimes, we just need to let the dogs bark at the back door.
Over break, our family traveled south to a beloved island in the Caribbean. And, as we have in the past, we took a small dingy out to the cliffs from which our children love to jump. I am usually content to sit in the boat and record their courage on my phone. But, this time as I sat there, phone in hand, on the first day of the new year, I got to thinking, I need to jump too. So, I joined them. I scaled the rock face (which was no easy task) and approached the ledge. Heights terrify me. My heart was racing yet, there I stood. I didn’t need to do this. I could return the way I came. But wanting to embrace grit this year, I knew there was only one way down. I jumped. I screamed. It wasn’t graceful.
And that’s one type of grit, but I want every-day grit, too. Here in town, Greenwich grit is all around us. That may sound like a bit of an oxymoron, but I disagree. This is what Greenwich grit looks like.
It’s living with chronic illness.
It’s raising a child with special needs.
It’s raising any child really.
It’s caring for our aging parents and watching as they lose their independence.
It’s choosing to believe in God even after tragedy.
It’s accepting an apology and moving on.
It’s getting back on the ski slopes after a torn ACL.
It’s fighting for a cause, a person, a belief.
It’s creating a new life after divorce, after loss.
It’s holding the hand of a loved one when he or she takes that final breath.
It’s pursuing a dream no matter how crazy it sounds.
And, for some, it’s getting out of bed and facing the day.
Because life takes grit, maybe not the “I just climbed Mount Everest” kind of grit, but the kind of grit that doesn’t allow you to give up. In Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, her research shows us that:
Ivy League students who had more grit also had higher GPAs than their peers-even though they had lower SAT scores and weren’t as smart.
And this is good news for all of us who aren’t rocket scientists.
Maybe because my head is still a little bit on vacation, or maybe because I have brought a little bit of vacation home with me, I have been thinking quite a bit about surfing and how it captures my thoughts for the new year.
In another life, I would be a surfer, really, complete with ankle tattoo and rad string bikini. Surfing would take me to the most beautiful beaches in the world. I would head out to the break, board and water beneath me, and float, happily surrounded by my surfing family. The world’s problems would be tethered to land and far from sea and mind. My day would be spent focusing on the wind, current and swell. That’s all. I would let some waves pass me by, holding back so that others could take their turn, but when the time felt right, I would paddle, preparing and positioning just so, adrenaline pumping. Pushing through the fear. Drop in. Pop up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
2020, you had me at hello. The time, this time is ours. And it’s exciting, thrilling, really. But before we know it, we will bid you adieu. 525,600 minutes, let’s make them count.
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold
– Smash Mouth, 2000