Here it is again. The end of a year.
It should be a festive time with holdover happiness from Christmas and all that brings. It should be a time of retrospection, of discovering your life actually has the meaning you've wanted to find. It should be a time of hope, of wonder and excitement for what's likely to come your way in the new year.
But here it is, the end of a year and none of that stuff seems part of your life. And I wonder. Am I doing something wrong? Am I too caught up in what could be to realize what is? Oh, man, I hate to be in this place. I hate to feel I'm missing something, like I don't belong, like no one can help change those feelings of helplessness.
That's dark. Dark isn't good, but maybe dark is the first step to retrospection, the first glimpse at a life lived, not merely survived.
Then it happens. You wake up one morning and your clock tells you it's 11:11. Oh, don't scowl. You know I stay up late and get up late. And since 11:11 is my favorite time, my heart does a little jig and a grin jumps onto my face. I think of Steve Foley, former free safety for the Denver Broncos, whose birthday is Oct. 11, and thinking of him, my mind slides to Denver itself and being at Denver makes me think of my daughter and thinking of my daughter always brings a smile to my face.
It happens again when you look outside and the day is pleasantly bright, not that false bright of a sun shining through brutally cold temperatures.
You start to do something you think will work but before you spend too much time fighting through it, you realize it's too stupid to continue. Ah, that's the beauty of a life well lived. No retrospection needed. No meaning sought. Your mind tells you no, you listen, you're right.
There's hope and wonder in that. Excitement. Any time you can fix your problem before it becomes a problem, any time you realize you're on the wrong track, any time you can be happy just looking out a window, you're part of the universal glow of good will.
That's a good place to be. It doesn't matter if you forgot to buy dishwasher soap. Those little packages, by the way, can be tossed right into the dishwasher instead of being trapped in that little door and you never have to worry if the door will open at the right time. My friends at Ross Appliances taught me that.
Part of that good place to be is the place your mind stops when you're searching for answers and you light on just the right idea. No spending hours or even days wondering what you should do. No indecision. You think a problem through, then take a stand. You feel good. You think again, and pretty soon you've made thinking a habit.
Habits are hard to break, and good habits give life the meaning you seek.
So long friends, until the next time when we're together.
Sandy Mickelson, former lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.