My previous word for the year was minimize. I attempted to focus on the core essentials rather than be distracted by consumerism, and to center my life around the needs of others rather than only my own. As I strived to minimize many areas of my life, I realized that there is one thing that should always be maximized – time, particularly time spent with others. For this reason, my word for this year is cherish.
This season of my life has been filled with a dichotomy of endings and beginnings. Each time I encounter the close of a chapter, I think back and wonder if I appreciated it and the people in it enough. And with each new chapter, I make it my mission to make the most of it.
Time is inevitably quick, but the way we choose to spend it, both in our actions and in our attitude, is what makes life full. This year, I will cherish every moment, because I will only get to experience each one once.
This year we passed through life’s darkest shadows
and felt the warmth of life’s brightest joys.
Through it all, there is no one I’d rather have by my side than you –
my supporter, my partner, my best friend.
We make the greatest team, and I can’t wait to
experience this new chapter in our lives together.
I recently learned about one of the top chefs in America, Grant Achatz. His restaurant is known for its innovation in reimagining food and the way we experience it – from floating desserts and edible art to pillows of seasoned air. While I was fascinated by all of Achatz’s creations, what most made an impression on me was his philosophy.
While his restaurant was at the pinnacle of success, he made the decision to close it temporarily to renovate the building and create a new menu from scratch. Some may ask, “Why fix something that’s not broken?” But Achatz believes that keeping something because it’s “perfect” or “the best” is counter-creativity.
He said, “I don’t think Wednesday night we’re going to put out the best meal that we’ve ever put out, but I think it’s important that we’re putting out different meals. To me, the evolution of the experience is almost more important.”*
In other words, he values taking a risk by trying something new and hopefully better, even if the end result is not always better. The process takes priority over the end result.
As a perfectionist who typically favors routine over change, this attitude inspired me to humble myself by asking, “What can I fix in my life that I may not see as broken?” What changes can I make in my career, in my habits, in my relationships, in my character?
May we challenge ourselves to recognize that maybe sometimes the “evolution of the experience” is more important than perfection. And sometimes, it may be only through that experience that we ever truly achieve progress.
Happy Anniversary to the man who has saturated my life with
laughter in abundance, inspiration to the max, and love with no bounds.
“If they be two, they are two so As stiff twin compasses are two; Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show To move, but doth, if the other do…. Thy firmness makes my circle just, And makes me end where I begun.” // John Donne
She devoured the words, consumed their soothing elixir.
She caressed each page with her fingertips as they stirred her longings and met her deepest, darkest fears. She delighted in each small triumph and mourned over losses that seemed only a lifetime away. She invited them into herself and bared her very soul. And even though the story ended, she carried them with her so that they became a part of her.
Even the smallest decisions have a power that often goes unnoticed. In the past year, I’ve given a lot of thought to the decisions I make in my life – what I eat, what I wear, what I purchase, what I believe, what I say.
After much thought, I have established three priorities by which I want to live my life. Essentially, I want each decision I make to positively impact:
the lives of others (at both the societal and individual levels),
the environment (as well as the organisms within it), and
myself (physically, spiritually, and emotionally).
It is my intention that by fulfilling these three goals, I will live in a way that pleases God and improves the world around me. As I have begun to apply these values in my decision-making process, I have realized that all of my values are interrelated and overlapping. For instance, the decisions that I make to support sustainability typically lead to healthier decisions for my body. The choices I make about buying ethical clothing, which essentially means purchasing less clothing overall, improves my life by simplifying it and drawing me away from consumerism.
I recently read this claim in an article: “…you do not have the power or the information to implement your values.” Unfortunately, I think this statement is true in many ways. For example, the processes of the industries we purchase from lack transparency, so that we don’t always have all of the information and background we need to ensure that our decisions are positively affecting the globe. However, I believe that whether or not we can control the outcomes of all of our decisions, we are still responsible for each one that we make.
So I choose not to live by the adage of “ignorance is bliss,” but to research and educate myself so that, to the best of my ability, even my smallest decisions will be informed and positively impact the world. I have included a small collection of resources that have impacted me and my decision making for each of my three values. Each of these resources is, in itself, incomplete and only a part of ongoing conversations about very complex topics.
I leave you with these words… “Be careful. You will be haunted by what you find…, and you won’t be able to wash away what you’ve seen and heard. You will see things and hear things, and then you will be responsible for them, for telling the truth about who you are and who you discover you are not, and for finding a way to make it right.” (“Broken Bottles,” Cold Tangerines, Shauna Niequist)
Last year, my word for the year was give, and I made it a priority to seek opportunities to give my time, energy, and love to others. And I realized that the more I shifted my focus to others, the less I focused on myself. For this reason, as I continue to challenge myself to give continually in 2016, I also want to minimize.
I have embraced the philosophy of minimalism in many areas of my life already – my purchases, my wardrobe, my style. Throughout this process, I discovered how much consumerism and self-centeredness had infiltrated my life, and I have been very humbled.
This year, I will continue to pursue minimalism in my possessions, but more importantly, I will seek to minimize myself so that I may become more like Jesus, and so that God may use me as a vessel to serve others and improve the world around me.