As it is still January, and I am still reading New Years posts from others and thinking through how I myself might want 2012 to look and feel, I am brought back to the wisdom/warning that it doesn’t so much matter how I want this year to look if I’m not willing to look at today.

This is something I’ve had to tackle as a writer—sitting down on a very consistent basis and getting a bit of work done. Sometimes the work that is done is barely perceptible, with little sense of accomplishment. Sometimes the work that is done is terrible. And in the face of that knowledge I have to choose to sit down again and begin again and keep beginning again. Hideous. Yet, at the end of a week, a month, and a year, there it is . . . all documented in words: some strange kind of sprawling progress. Raw material. Something I could have never just spit out in a weekend binge writing session. Movement. Healing.

This is the truth I am taking with me into 2012: the great importance of today.

One of the things I really love about the 12-step program is its emphasis on today. Breaking life down into a series of todays keeps us from getting overwhelmed by the prospect of having to sustain anything (i.e. sobriety) for an entire week, month, or year. Just for today. And it keeps us from living in the delusion that I will – sometime this year/at some point in my life – do such and so and really change things for good: i.e. lose weight, begin writing, read more, watch less TV, drink less, walk more, get my emotional health under control, etc. This is the thinking that allows us just enough wiggle room to sabotage our best intentions.

Goals/resolutions are a necessary and important part of life, but they are impotent without a firm root in today. It doesn’t matter what I set out to accomplish this year if I don’t have a sense of how I will reorder my today.

Am I willing to start today—even if that means fumbling and stumbling a bit?

How might my decisions today begin a trajectory and a momentum that I could build on?

What choices do I have today?

I’m hopeful that this will be a writing year for me. Not so much in terms of just producing something but because I know that when I am writing consistently, I am more of a whole person. I also know that I will be birthing a baby in the next few weeks. Balancing mothering and writing never works perfectly. And yet, if I try to take all that in right now, I’m overwhelmed and stuck before I even open my computer. But if I can think about today . . . the little bit of work that I can do today . . . even without a perfect sense of how it’s all going to come together, at the very least, I’ve put some words down. And I will always be better for wringing out my soul a bit.

Tolkein has the dazzling line that says, “Not all who wander are lost.” I love this because it reminds me that wandering is a part of the gig. I can’t map out a perfect strategy from beginning to end for most things in my life. Especially the things that really matter. And that doesn’t mean I’m lost as a result. What it means is that the mess is often the magic. And I also take that to mean that I might need to get my hands in the mess – today – instead of waiting for the perfectly clear path to present itself.

What we do in the messy, wandering, trenches of today matters. So I guess I’m encouraging myself, and hopefully you too, to consider how your dreams might intersect with today. And in doing so, we might roll up our sleeves and get to work even if the path is not perfectly lit.

Sometimes all we’ve been given is fog lights when what we were hoping for/waiting for was high beams. But if we’ll commit to what’s right in front of us, we can make a long journey with just a little lit at a time.

Here’s to today.

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