I’ve recently finished re-reading Ken Follett's Fall of Giants. I read it years ago, but now the third and final instalment is out and I wanted to read the trilogy it in its entirety. While I fell in love with the name of a character, Walter, (my son was later given that name) it’s remarkable how much of the more-than-one-thousand-page book I didn’t remember. While reading, a line struck me, and I folded the page down so I could re-read the words again and again.
“She’s nothing if not exceptional. You don’t meet two like her in a lifetime.”
I would study those words before starting a reading session, tucked nicely into my bed or in the corner of my living room with the kids playing loudly around me. I loved reading the words. I hoped that one day, someone might describe me as such. That people would describe my children as someone you don’t meet two of in a lifetime. The words made me think of who I am, not the housewife mother of six with dreadlocks and an affinity for baking. Who I am. What sets me apart from every other woman.
While the answer to that changes from one day to the next, I wanted to share the thought. December 31st is fast approaching, and most of us will at least consider a New Year resolution whether or not we choose one. There will be an overwhelming consensus to “get healthy”. Gym memberships will increase, diet pills and shake sales will skyrocket, and everyone will be buying new clothes to work out in. There will be a lot of quitting. Smoking, drinking, other addictions or habits. Resolutions to journal regularly, call friends you’ve lost contact with, spend more time on your passion. I don’t feel compelled to offer poll results of how long those resolutions actually last, as we have all made them and rarely see them through to February.
In lieu of a resolution, why not ask yourself how you might be described when not present. How family, friends, strangers in the grocery store might describe you. Be real about it. It won’t all be nice. Don’t brush it off and say the opinions of others don’t matter and you do what makes you happy. That’s garbage. Try to take a real assessment of what other see in you, see about you.
Don’t join the hoards of thinner, stronger, healthier, deeper, happier, etc. Those things, outside of our culture shoving them down our throat, aren’t necessarily bad. But why be part of a mass of millions? Let me share a secret. Let me SCREAM IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS…. when you are living a true life, one not manufactured by media and our consumerism culture - things like losing 10 lbs, buying the newest tv, even “improving ourselves” by introspectively licking our life wounds DON’T MATTER. They just disappear. When you live authentically, the things we are told to strive for become so small we wonder how they had any place in our lives at all.
Why not be someone you don’t meet two like in a lifetime. Be radically generous. Compliment every person you interact with. Force yourself to surrender a prejudice and solidify it by acting kindly toward those you hated. Pursue others happiness instead of your own - help them facilitate it. Do something that doesn’t need to be given up because you forgot for a day or had a slip up. Something that creates real change, in you, and others.
Think how many years of your life have been a cycle of buying new things, trying a new diet, buying more things, giving up on a diet. The entirety of your existence can not be what job you worked to facilitate the things you bought and the food you wished you hadn’t eaten (or wished you had).
I’m not writing from my high horse. I know some of the things people say about me when I’m not in the room. I’d like to think there’s nothing I can do about those words, but the truth is - I can. Some people will always have something awful to say about other people, and that might be what is said about them - but why not try to make a positive impact in each relationship you have, big or small.
Why not be a once in a lifetime type of person.
Reject the New Year Resolution and start a New Year Revolution. Do it.
Go ahead and watch this song, get that fire burning. Then close your browser and stop living online, haha.
"What if my only responsibility was to change the world?"