The Time Has Come.

In this quiet, sated space between the discarded wrappings of Christmas and the bright, fresh promise of a brand new year, I would normally become introspective.  With leather-bound journal against my knee, my favorite ink pen poised in hand, I would dedicate myself anew to those qualities, desires, and pursuits I wished for.

Better known as RESOLUTIONS, they were rarely effective, mostly because I wasn’t being specific enough — i.e. the vagueness of ‘be more organized’ — or it was something I already was — i.e. ‘become a writer’.  In truth, I already was a writer, there was nothing to become.

I suppose there was an image in my head of what writers looked like, how they moved about in the world, the length of their publishing credits.  Perhaps a more correct version of my Resolutions should have read as follows:

1.  I will wear scarves every day.

2.  My desk will be in a room lined with bookshelves and have bookends of Romulus and Remus — the founders of Rome.

3.  Coffee will be chugged all day.

4.  Cursing will only be permitted when spoken in French.

5.  The gardener will speak French so he can understand when I yell obscenities out of the window as the sound of his electric shears and leaf blower interferes with my creativity.

6.  I will stay up until 3:00 a.m. and not arise before noon.

7.  I will publish a piece every other day, even if it is just how to find French-speaking gardeners.

Perhaps such a specific list would have helped me achieve something which I perceived as being ‘writer-ish’.  But I doubt it would have made much difference.

And it isn’t just writers who are plagued with this malady of failing to recognize the seed of their inner voice.  I’ve heard similar comments from photographers, dancers, nurses, cooks.

“I’d love to be a chef,” she says, while pulling a perfectly risen soufflé from the oven.

“I wish I could become a photographer,” he gushes, snapping away at the wild birds feasting at the feeder.

“I regret not becoming a nurse,” she sighs, helping her aging mother back to bed after checking her blood pressure with a store bought cuff.

“My dream was to be an ice skater,” he whispers as though ashamed, then takes off noiselessly across the indoor rink.

We all see it in them.  We understand the woman taking care of her mother is practicing a form of nursing; the one desiring to be a chef is doing exactly that for her friends and family, the photographer, dancer, skater are all practicing their  loves.  The singer in the church choir may not be in an Operatic performance, but she is invaluable to  those in attendance on Sunday morning.

Somehow we have come to believe payment received for a thing is its only measure of validation.  The higher the salary, the better the work.

I challenge you to think differently this year.  If you haven’t already found your heart’s desire — and I’m not talking about a significant other — then see if you can figure it out and then set about doing it, regardless of payment or acknowledgement. The joy in the act will bring you so much happiness, and who knows what might happen down the road.

Instead of resolutions, think about wishes and desires. As for me, I am starting a Pinterest Board for my 2015 Goals and Aspirations. And then I’m simply going to sit with myself and write.

Writing makes me a writer.

There is a poem I have loved for years which I believe expresses this quite well.  I wasn’t sure why it spoke to me at first, only that it settled over me like a soothing cup of tea every time I read it.  Now I finally understand it.

It is titled Love After Love and the author is Derek Walcott.

The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

–Derek Walcott

Are you making resolutions this year, or are you peeling yourself from the mirror, hiking the El Camino, reading the literary greats, taking a class in kickboxing?

Tell us all in comments what you are thinking about as we approach this New Year and a brand new chance to be what we’ve always wanted to become.

Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel.   

About reneejohnsonwrites

I have recently returned from University of Iowa's Novel-Writing Intensive during their Summer Writing Festival. Other credits include two stints at The Essoyes School in France, two terms at a writer's residency at Noepe Center for Literary Arts on Martha's Vineyard, and a retreat in Italy. Join me in 'writing the world.' -- Renee Canter Johnson, author of "Herald Angels", "The Haunting of William Gray", and "Acquisition" published by The Wild Rose Press. Coming soon--an international intrigue set in Venice, Italy--where adventure and danger are as masked as the characters.
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46 Responses to The Time Has Come.

  1. You are one wise lady. These are things it takes most a life time to understand. That is a fabulous poem, Renee. I’d never heard it before and I love it. Thank you for sharing it and your thoughts. As for my plans this coming year…I am going to do all in my power to move back to the beach and paint and paint and paint. 😀 I wish for you a happy New Year of joy, peace, inspiration and the promise of all things new and exciting. xo

    • Thank you Elizabeth! I’m so glad to be able to share that poem with you. It speaks to the soul. And I love your plans. What could be better than the beach for inspiring painting? Every blessing for a joyful New Year!

  2. I love this poem, Renee. Thank you for sharing it with us. I’ve never been one to make resolutions. I agree, I’d rather look at the year ahead based on my wishes and dreams. For the past five years, I’ve chosen one word for the year. I’ve found that has worked best for me to reach my goals for the year and be the best I can be. Wonderful post, Renee! Happy New Year!

  3. (Got the giggles over #4 and #5 – can just picture that…belongs in a movie about a writer…..)
    Write. It works.
    Loved the poem – it’s elegant and such a perfect last line. Thanks for sharing it.
    Hope your “In-Between Week” is restful and fun ( and those do go together, too!)

  4. megtraveling says:

    I wear scarves practically every day too – that’s a good resolution! For now I’ll just be wishing you a Happy New Year… 🙂

  5. jmgoyder says:

    Brilliant post – thank you. 2015 is going to be my writing year.

  6. Love this post and love the poem, Renee. Thank you so much. I hesitate to call myself a writer even though I write. So, a writer I am and write I will do in 2015. And who knows maybe I’ll even let someone read it! 🙂 Thanks for the continued inspiration. Wishing you a Healthy and Happy New Year!

  7. E.C. says:

    Wonderful post Renee. I like the look-back resolutions that’s a neat-take on your year. I’m so happy for you getting your book published, to me, that alone would make the year a complete success. ~standing ovation~
    I wish you a successful and joyful 2015.
    🙂

  8. May New Year have bright new beginnings for you and safety.

  9. Happy New Year, Renee. Love the poem, but especially like the idea of only cursing in French and having a French gardener. Sounds tres cosmopolitan and very extraordinaire!

  10. Funny, I hadn’t even thought about resolutions until I read this post. I like your idea of making the Pinterest board for it. That poem is wonderful. I will have to figure out a way to keep it near. Have yourself a wonderful New Year, Renee.

  11. Love that first sentence – that ‘quiet, sated space…’ Great post Renee – I love those resolutions that might have been (I have a huge scarf collection and must wear more of them – the same goes for jewellery!) and the poem is wonderful. It’s too true that being something isn’t about being paid for it. I hope your wishes and dreams for 2015 come true.

  12. hotlyspiced says:

    What great words. It’s so true that in society, the more money a person earns, the more we validate what they do. I’m inspired to learn some French curse-words and I think I’d like a French gardener too – what a scarce breed they are around these parts! Happy New Year to you Renee, and all your family xx

  13. Lee I says:

    Maybe you’ll inspire me here. You catch me at an unambitious moment. My greatest aspiration right now is to put the dishes in the dishwasher, and, maybe, take my trash to the dump tomorrow.

  14. “You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.”
    A beautiful gift we all can give ourselves for 2015. Most of the time we are to busy taking of others, loving others, sacrificing for others that we failed to see our inner selves asking, wanting, needing to be loved and cared for. We need to nurture ourselves and the things we are passionate about. Thanks for reminding us to celebrate ourselves always. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  15. What wonderful words from an eloquent writer. Thanks! Your words created a moment in time for some well needed reflection. Happy New Year! Now, I will get back to work on my unpaid (in dollars) but fulfilling collaborative project with family.

  16. rangewriter says:

    This is a lovely, grounded post. Perhaps the result of having achieved something really special this year. I hope the feeling stays with you. I am extremely lucky to have arrived at that wonderful place of acceptance. I do what I can to contribute, I rejoice in my accomplishments, but my expectations are small, day-to-day delights. May 2015 be your year.

  17. What an amazing year it has been. I thank God that I see another holiday season unlike the one before. Prayers I never even thought to pray for have been answered. It is a fine feast. Wonderful reflection on this year that brought you much to remember recorded right here on the blog. Thank you for sharing the tears, laughter and “elation.”

    • Wow Georgette. I love your reflection about having prayers you never even thought to pray for being answered. What a gift! I suppose a lot of emotions and realizations spilled out in this post. Thank you, and here’s to 2015 bringing us both many “unprayed for answers”.

  18. Sheila says:

    Renee! I love this post! And you are exactly right, for all of us…I struggle with the same challenges and have had similar aha moments…still a battle I fight on a regular basis, but I’m learning! I loved everything you said. Bravo to you! And you’ve clearly already made huge gains with the publication of your novel! You’re on the way, and an example to us other aspiring writers! Happy 2015! ~ Sheila

  19. aFrankAngle says:

    If I could only curse in French … Happy New Year, and best of luck of your goals.

  20. melissa says:

    I accept your challenge, Renee! Listening to the life we are already living. So true, and that is indeed one of my goals this year. To value what I contribute to the world. I am so excited for this new year and it sounds like you are as well! Wishing you all the best in 2015!

  21. “The joy in the act will bring you so much happiness, and who knows what might happen down the road.” Such wise words! Thank you for sharing that poem. My resolutions are very simple, mostly to live in the moment (and not just talk about how I need to live in the moment!) By being really present, I’m able to fully appreciate the miracle of every second I’m alive. I have a feeling this newfound way of thinking will transform my life in many ways. Happy New Year to you!

    • Darla, you are so right! If we can’t live in the present moment, we aren’t really experiencing life, as the rest is all past or yet to come. I hope you find it as transformative as you suspect, and that 2015 will be your best ever!

  22. 4. Cursing will only be permitted when spoken in French.

    s u p e r b.

    xxxx

  23. Renee – Terrific post for any time of year. I often take stock of myself while wandering in my garden in mid-summer. I need the peace the dancing wildflowers afford me to release my whirling mind and give in to free thought. Thanks for a thought provoking read.

  24. You are really touching the essence of what I am trying to teach my kids, too; don’t go for a job just for its money. Find a job that fulfills your dreams and desire. It’s hard to do in our society of material cravings, isn’t it. Otherwise – although it’s some time ago your wrote them – I love your resolutions, particularly only to curse in French!

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