a year in review

a year in review
image by dall.e 2

The question at hand is this: “What are the markers of a year well-lived”? If there is such a thing, of course, as a year well-lived. A compilation of months well-spent, days well-cherished, seasons well-reaped. For if there is a life well-lived, then in a similar manner, it must be an assembly of years well-lived. Certainly, if there is a life worth living, this judgment must have been made from the sum of its parts, the handful of dozens of moons that make up human time. Easily so, the question stands and must therefore be answered: “What are the markers of a year well-lived?”

To answer this curious query, one must first acknowledge that there is a declaration in asking the question itself. And the proclamation is that first, there are multiple factors that go into making a year well-lived. These are the essential markers, without which, one walks through the shadows of time blindly, being poked here and there by the hands of the clocks that make up one’s life. Indeed, I hold that we each have multiple clocks ticking simultaneously. Social clocks, philosophical clocks, travel clocks, you get the point. Yet many have been tempted to believe that, somehow, these clocks are gender-philic – I speak here of the assertion that women hold some sort of a biological clock and men, a financial one. Yet, I can’t help but feel that this year, in particular, I have been forced to watch the sand fall on both my biological and financial timelines. Pellet after pellet dropping down to the base of the hourglass that is my life, surrendering to the call of the gravity that is my finiteness. A sinister demarcation that marks every measure of who I am… from the amount of air I can breathe and the food I can eat, to the proportion of space I can occupy and the time I can spend. 

It is this observation, and even more … the acceptance of it, that, say, each of my years is bound to twelve months that affords me the privilege to ask the question at hand. Although differing in their pace and contents, these months contribute to carving out not only the story of what our lives are about, but also who we become in the process. For I sit here with the awareness that the woman I was when I wrote this year’s manifesto is far removed from the woman I am in this hour – and it is not because of the mere passing of time that these two women became estranged. Neither is it in the simple fact that the body undergoes natural changes as the year goes by – and so does the soul that inhabits it. 

For if I must argue for the latter notion… there have been years I began as bald as a coot and ended with a healthy mini afro. Others, I commenced with the habit of chewing my fingernails and somewhere along the way, learnt that it is not ladylike to do so. In some, I began believing that COVID-19 was a conspiracy theory, and having experienced the ailment myself, been transformed (read: humbled) into a believer of human biology once more. It strikes me now that that’s what years do… they mold you. They break you, crush you, water you, spit on you, and reform you into … something. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, into a caricature of your expectations and prayers, some of which were designed to sugarcoat the lies you tell yourself at the beginning of each year. 

And we all do this. Yet I wonder whether there is any benefit in deliberately deluding oneself. To build the foundation of your next twelve moons on promises that will be broken before the second moon dares to grace our skies. To force yourself to do things merely for social convention. But most disappointingly, to forget your limits. To pile to-do upon to-do, wish upon wish, and vision upon vision. To ignore the reality that the reason one year is about to begin is because another is almost ending. That in itself, mocks your endless planning and obsession with doing everything all the time and at every chance you get. And I do not mean to let my pessimistic ink loose, yet might I suggest that if you are to live a meaningful year, you might want to go back to the first principles… of which truth rules above all. This necessarily implies that the value of your year is in direct proportion to how much truth you handled. And it’s not about willingness and ability. In all channels of your life, in all your senses, in all your interactions… how much truth did you hear? How much did you tell? How much did you believe? And how much did you practice?

For there is no point in accumulating experiences and possessions from deceit. To put it plainly… how disappointing, my dear reader, would it be if you stood to review the castle that is your year and saw that beneath the accomplishments you brag about is a pile of falsehoods and fabrications, misrepresentation and disinformation? 

This is why I care less about spreading my ink to pontificate about a clear list of markers of a year well-lived… and instead I care about the thread that ties all those markers together – whatever they may be. I care that you and I, no matter the size of the vision boards we create, the grapes we hurriedly eat at midnight, or the plates we break… we know that our years’ worth will only be measured in the amount of truth they hold. Truth, certainly, is what makes the tick-tocking of the clock like music to the ears and not a painful reminder that time, in all its oozing finiteness, is forever running out.