It is the writer's privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.
.I finished something last night. Yes, I know, we all finished 2018. But last night around 8:00 p.m. I also put the last period on a project I've been working on for over a year. Actually the idea has been stirring for much longer. I recently found a journal entry from January 10, 2017 which listed this particular project as a goal for that year. Okay, so it took a little longer than I hoped, but it's done. I enlisted the help of two friends and it turned into something I am fiercely proud of. There will undoubtedly be revisions to make, and I'm hoping this work will find an audience that will embrace and enjoy it. Celebrating that will come another day. Today, I celebrate finishing this part of the journey.
I am not a great finisher. It's something I know well about myself and really don't like. When I turned 50 a couple years ago, that became one of my life goals. To become a better finisher. I think my fellow creatives will agree that when you are a person whose brain is often a stampede of new ideas, it can be tough to wrangle one to the ground, tame it, then train it to be something worthy of sharing. When you do, it's a feeling like none other.. I just know I don't get to that point near as often as I'd like.
Over the years, the importance of finishing well has been one of the things I've consistently preached to my kids. What they probably don't realize though, is how with every time I've hammered home that message to them, I've really just been trying to convince myself of the very same thing. Because I know how hard it is. The battle to fight excuses, resistance, disappointment, negativity, physical and emotional exhaustion, and discouragement from others, is one that really doesn't seem worth fighting some days. Isn't it easier to cave and move on to something that seems more exciting and invigorating? The answer to that question is yes. It is easier. For a while. Then one day you're confronted with all the hard things you faced the last time. And again you must decide: press on and finish well or quit.
I've seen this play out in various ways with each one of my kids. One of the best things to ever happen to three of the four has been the experience of playing on a losing sports team when they were younger. Losing, as in they did not win a game the ENTIRE SEASON. After every game, we'd have the obligatory conversation about how sports is about more than winning. It's about the relationships. It's about learning how to be coachable. It's about growing as an athlete over the long haul. And it's about the absolute most important thing regarding youth sports - the post-game snack. As parents, we kept a brave face. We desperately tried to keep our kids engaged and enthusiastic, even while having conversations in our own heads that went something like, "This just sucks. How long is this season? Good grief, we're terrible." I can admit it. I hated those experiences. We all laugh about those seasons now, but it was not fun. I'd like to be able to tell you all the positives that came out of it, but really, the main thing they learned, we all learned, was to just push through it as best you can and finish. And finishing well doesn't always mean finishing in a manner others recognize as successful.
Lest you think I have a "you will complete this at all costs" mentality, trust me I don't. I understand the only way to finish some things is to abandon them. Several years ago, I resigned from a job I still don't feel like I finished well. I had stayed too long and nearing the end of my employment, every day felt like banging my head against a brick wall. Every. Single. Day. It was brutal and would take years to recover from. In the end, all I knew to do was abandon my position. The cost of staying had become too great. So, it was time to leave with things undone. Quit. There was no period at the end. No celebratory sense of accomplishment. My only hope in leaving was that I would go with some relationships still in tact. Some were and some weren't. Through that experience I learned there are some things you can only finish by moving on. In those moments, you can only hope a day will come when you'll be able to put a period at the end of it. Somehow.
2019 will bring some unavoidable finishes as every year does. For our family, it's another high school graduation. And for the next few months I'll be encouraging H#3 to finish well. And every time I do, I'll hear that same voice in my head telling me to do the same thing. Finish mothering another high school student. Finish another song. Finish that other project that's been on my to-do list since 2017. And when I do, I will celebrate. Just like I'm celebrating the fact this blog is now finished.
Happy New Year, all. Now go finish something.