Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"One Little Word" for 2014

For the past four years, I’ve taken part in the One Little Word challenge. This is a collaborative event in which participants from all over the country choose one word to use as a guidepost or inspiration in the upcoming year and submit it to a website, which gathers together all the words so that they may inspire other people.

In 2011, I chose “Possible.” For 2012, “Succeed.” And last year, “Walking.”

Some years, I admit, it’s a pretty amorphous exercise. “Possible,” for example, seemed so tentative as to be wishy-washy, and yet it was just how I felt as the year began. A lot of things were possible, none certain. If the word has a rather neutral tone, so did my feelings about the possibilities for the upcoming twelve months. Much that was possible did in fact transpire.

The word for 2013 was stronger in its meaning but perhaps mundane: walking. It reflected my acknowledgment that walking, as in going for walks, was far and away one of my favorite things to do, mundane or not, and that one focus of the upcoming year had to be a priority on finding time to take walks.

This year, the word came to me out of the blue: Radiate. That too may seem like a strange word, compared to the more typical choices – the ones that hundreds of participants to the One Little Word challenge submit to the website – words like Inspire, Simplicity, Joy, Acceptance, Hope. “Radiate” sounds a little bit like “radiation,” which seldom has very auspicious connotations. But “Radiate” is what I feel like as the year begins. I feel like this is a year for radiating kindness, radiating generosity, radiating acceptance. Not holding good things within but sending good things outward, in waves: from within myself out into the world. Happiness. Contentment. Gratitude. Starting within, radiating outward, rippling in circles around me, casting an ever-wider influence.

That may be a lot to hope for in the new year, but at the moment it feels right. I will try not only to be generous and kind and caring but also to have those intended attributes radiate from within and cast light around me. It’s not just a matter of being all of those things; it’s also about sending them out into the world.

Radiate. A verb this year, whereas other years I’ve had a gerund – walking – and an adjective – possible. It would be overreaching to suggest that this is a year for action words. I don’t yet know what this year will call on me to do or to be. But I am trying to radiate well-being and other good things as I make my way into 2014.

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