I have to confess, I forgot my word of the year for 2022.
For a long time, the practice of choosing a word of the year was a precious and closely held piece of magic, guiding me through darkness, through healing, through mothering a young child. Then I got…angry? Tired? Disillusioned? Whatever it was, I gave up. Lost interest. Found other guiding lights.
During the pandemic, I turned back toward choosing a word. But with all the disorientation, the obsession with the latest Covid stats and political nonsense, the months that felt like years, my word of the year tended to slip my mind mid-March.
As the conversations about choosing a new word picked up this past December, I wracked my brain, looking for some faint imprint left by the word I’d picked. Nothing. The fog of being riddled with mold, then surgery, then my first covid infection had obliterated all memory.
Just before the new year, I picked up my 2021-22 Year Compass (a sweet, free online download in a gazillion languages), and voila, there it was.
A lovely word. A beacon I could have, maybe should have, held close. But I didn’t.
Or I thought I didn’t.
In late November, I happened to be going through pictures from the year as I put photo books together for our parents. Interspersed between Instagram story memes and photos of food, were pictures I had taken in moments of delight.
Some were big events – my fiftieth birthday weekend in Palm Desert, family trips, weddings, concerts, and outings to the theater. But many were quiet little moments, Mary Oliver moments, moments that add up to a life.
The heart rock on my lane that made me smile every time I passed by.
The cactus blooms I looked for as I walked my dog to the State Park.
Palm trees framed against the bluest sky.
The way my husband and daughter look at each other.
Ada’s carved pumpkin sinking into itself in the California autumn heat, looking more and more like a grumpy old man.
My feet in the water as I walked myself back to health after my surgery.
Turtle playing with his best friend, Moki.
Pretending to hold the moon while looking for shooting stars.
The pink California poppies that grew in the backyard.
Perfect latte art.
And of course, the daily delight of watching my daughter grow up.
Even though I’d forgotten my word, even though it was a year filled to the brim with intense health challenges, even though it often felt better summed up by words like “frustration”, or “damaged”, or “Are you kidding me?” the magic of the word of the year wormed its way into and through my world.
It was a year filled with delight.
It was a year that added up to a good, imperfect, hard, beautiful life.