Have you ever had a thread hanging from a sleeve that someone thought they would “help” by pulling, but it didn’t break off and just kept pulling? And when you were able to take a closer look you realized that if you continued pulling it, the entire sleeve would come off?
This is what the last several years have felt like for me. How about you?
The great unraveling.
I feel the national/global version of it—where rights we thought were carved in stone have been shattered into rubble, hates we thought we grew beyond were revealed to be as ugly as ever, and a disrespect for the world we are leaving our children is counted in billion-dollar profits.
Day after day feeling like Apollo Creed getting mortally pummeled by Ivan Drago.
It’s personal, too. The word I keep returning to for how I’ve felt these last several years is “untethered.” The feeling of overwhelm has resulted in a disconnect that has me floating around in a surreal, slow-motion 3D-pinball game. A game I am not winning.
And if I haven’t mixed enough metaphors/similes for you yet, here’s one more: I feel like I have been working to swim to a shore that I cannot see—and don’t know if I am getting closer or farther from land.
Even choosing a word of the year for 2023 has had me scratching my head. Normally, the word truly “appears” to me with little thought, but this year—unless the word “huh?” qualifies—I have been grappling. I was tempted to forego it—and if it hadn’t been a years-long tradition, I probably would have—but I didn’t. I’m holding myself accountable. (Though in reading this rambling post, perhaps you are wishing I wouldn’t have.)
I need to feel more grounded. I need to feel a little less lost and a little more found, and so it is with this yearning that I share the word I have ultimately chosen for 2023: integrate.
Merriam Webster defines integrate as “to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole.” While there are variations of the meaning—like the societal application—for my purposes, the understanding that I am embracing is the idea of working toward a personal “unified whole.”
Should take me just a few more days.
Or a lifetime.
Give or take.
The problem is that there’s no pause button to hit on life—the pages of the calendar fill up and get ripped off without missing a beat—no matter what you have going on. And working on anything, let alone a “unified whole,” too often gets buried under life’s responsibilities.
But in 2023 that is all going to magically change for me.
Okay, maybe not. But putting a name to it and seeing it for what it is matters, and the pursuit of wholeness should not continue to be relegated to the bottom drawer of my mind’s file cabinet. This year I am going to do my best to make it top drawer.
Though I am not sure of what integration looks or feels like for me, I know it involves the whole smash: body, mind, and soul. A team effort. I know that, like most of us complicated beings, I have some parts that have broken down or were maybe never put together properly to begin with, and so I am striving to both repair and build anew—and hopefully find true wholeheartedness along the way.
Fun fact: a welded joint, when using the right materials and process, is stronger than the original metal. I like that. Maybe there’s some welding involved in this integration that will result in even greater strength.
Other verbs I know factor into this goal include focus, listen, learn, rest, heal, play, connect, feel…and more. I sense, too, that it is not a destination but a practice, just as when I hit the yoga mat and must remember to breathe and pay attention.
Have I convinced you yet that I absolutely don’t know what I’m talking about regarding my very own “word of the year”? I’ve certainly convinced myself.
In thinking about it, though, I can’t help but remember a scene from one of my favorite shows…
Folding in the cheese is a way of integrating a part into a whole, after all. Maybe I just need to figure out what needs folding and where.
What I do know is that the swirly-ballooned-3D-pinball experience needs to be game over. Please. Before I float away all together. I could end up like one of those balloons we used to release when we were kids (before we knew how bad that was) with our address attached to the string hoping someone might find it and write us from some exotic land. (Does Beloit, Wisconsin qualify as exotic? If so, I think our hopes were fulfilled.)
Lots of thoughts. No clear plan. Sounds about right.
But here we go, 2023…Hoping for “into great.”