Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Word for the New Year

When I attended my poetry retreat three years ago, the poet who led/taught/inspired us for the weekend was the remarkable and wonderful Molly Fisk. Molly is a poet, teacher, and essayist who does weekly radio pieces on top of everything else she does. She just posted on Facebook an update of the great new year's post she did last year. Molly believes that instead of making grim resolutions that are bound to fail, you should choose a word that will resonate inside you throughout the year, a word to hover in the back of your thoughts and help you through the coming months. One year her word was "surrender"; another year it was "austere"; this year it is going to be "precise." Molly said that sometimes you don't choose your word as much as it chooses you.

I want to choose a word for this coming year, for me. This is going to be a significant year for me, because for the first time in decades I'm free to create an entirely new life for myself if I want. My beloved mother and father-in-law are at peace and no longer needing my care, my younger son is away at college, my older son is employed full time. And I'm alone, without a partner to share my life, but also without a partner to encumber it.

So what should my word be, my word for this year that is about to begin? I thought about the word "adventure." But Molly's words weren't obvious and cliched like that. Then I wrote on Facebook that I was going to grope toward my word. And as soon as I wrote that, I thought: that's my word! "Grope"!

Molly didn't say anything about choosing a word, or having it choose you, and then changing your mind partway through the year; she didn't speculate that perhaps you could be wrong in your choice of word. She didn't treat choosing your word as some big deal that was supposed to take weeks of thought and preparation. So maybe I should stop second-guessing myself and agonizing over this, and just say, okay. "Grope." That's my word for 2011. "Grope." As I'm repeating it to myself now, it has a strange sound. It looks strange on my screen. "Grope."

And yet, it also seems right. And it rhyme with "Hope."


  1. What a lovely post, Claudia. You've got my wheels turning. Wishing you a good year of grope and hope and all things fresh.