As the old year ends, I feel an urge to finish what I started, as if I need a clean slate to begin 2019. And then I laugh. As if that’s ever going to happen.
Just last month, I stopped reading a book I hated. It was for my book club. Which I’m dropping out of. I didn’t like the story or the characters or the writing. Or the members of the club. Or the hard wooden chairs we had to sit on. Can I quit now? It wasn’t worth my time, but I don’t like to leave anything unfinished.
I have a half-done quilt on my sewing machine, wrinkled clothes waiting on the ironing board, and a Christmas tablecloth with stains I haven’t managed to remove. And then there are all the short stories and essays in progress on my computer.
My kids grew up before I was finished raising them. Wait, I wanted to say, I’m not done. I forgot to teach you to ice skate…or to make a pie…When they walk away, I still want to wrap my arms around their ankles.
My parents died before I understood them. I didn’t ask my dad what his childhood was like. I forgot to ask my mom if she ever doubted her faith.
I dropped freshman organic chem. I didn’t care about the experiments, my grades were awful, and a boy said I was taking the place of someone who had been drafted to fight in Vietnam.
I dropped friends who moved away. Staying in touch was too hard in our busy lives. Or maybe they dropped me.
It’s okay. If we hold on to everything we start, our lives would be a spaghetti-ball mess we could never untangle. Life is about choices.
A new year is about to begin, a turn of the calendar’s page, opening more possibilities. What will I choose to start this year? What will I finish? And what can I quit in the middle of, knowing full well that “enough is enough,” that forcing myself to complete something that is no longer important is just a waste of my precious time? Time I could use for the things that matter.
Do you always “finish what you started?”
Comment on this post and I’ll put your name in the drawing for a copy of The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, a practical book about inner peace and freedom.
The winner of last month’s drawing is Susan Berrodin. She will receive a copy of Old Friend From Far Away by Natalie Goldberg. Congratulations!