Capturing this year

I was honored when my friend Rebecca asked me to contribute a prompt for her Relish 11 project.

My prompt was:

What quote, or line from a poem or a song, most captures what this year was for you?

I’m actually totally flabbergasted by how hard this is for me to answer.  I have books and books of quotes, compiled over years (since 1985) and filled with my own handwriting.  I regularly walk through my days with particular lines of poems or songs running through my head.  And yet, sitting here, trying to pick one, I find myself stymied and frustrated.

Life gives us what we need it when we need it.  Receiving what it gives us is a whole other thing.
-Pam Houston, In My Next Life

I think this is what I have to go with, on the shortlist of my favorite quotes, ever.  It’s kind of a boring choice because I know I’ve shared it many times before.  But it’s also just so apt for 2011.  What is true is that I recognize in a new way the gifts that every day life holds for me, even though they are painful almost as often as they are glorious.  But I’m still not receiving these gifts, at least not gracefully.  It often feels more like life is forcing them down my throat.  I write so much about letting go, and learning to do so; I even wear those two words around my neck.  I have made progress on that front in 2011 – loosed my grip, maybe – but I’m nowhere near there yet.

But maybe there is no there at all.  Maybe it is an endless process, this acceptance, this receiving, which, paradoxically, only happens for me once I’ve fully let go. I have to let go in order to receive life’s copious and overwhelming gifts. Which brings me to the other quote that’s sparring for the title of quote of the year.  You knew I couldn’t just pick one, right?  Same theme, different words (and another that I’ve shared many times before).

I will try to give thanks for gifts strangely, painfully, beautifully wrapped.

-Rebecca Wells, The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

I’d love to hear your thoughts here, on this: What quote, or line from a poem or a song, most captures what this year was for you?

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  1. Posted December 12, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Off the top of my head, and because I am writing a post around it…

    You, sent out beyond your recall,
    go to the limits of your longing.
    Embody me.

    ~ Rilke ~

    Love this question, thanks Lindsey!


  2. Posted December 12, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I would have to pick:

    “Don’t you realize that the sea is the home of water? All water is off on a journey unless it’s in the sea, and it’s homesick, and bound to make its way home someday.” – Zora Neale Hurston

    But this is also me, every year, not just 2011.

  3. Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Here’s mine (and oh how hard it was to choose): We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God. – Thomas Merton

    This concept is at the core of any and every niggling thought of unhappiness or dark shadow on my heart. Every. One. And my ability to be at peace with God is very dependent on the day to day decision to put myself in a place of communion. SO much easier said than done.

    Thanks for the prompt. I think I’ll have to blog about it…

  4. Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    As you already read on my blog today, mine is “Start close in” from the amazing poem of the same phrase by the beautiful David Whyte. It is such a reminder to focus on what is next and to not get caught up in the far away. xoxo

  5. Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Stumped. I’ll have to give this some thought. A great prompt (and oh so you). xo

  6. Posted December 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Oh wow. Hard question. How to pick just one line or phrase that sums up this crazy, intense, growing year for me?

    The one thing that comes to mind right off the bat is a verse from Jeremiah – “For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes on my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.”

    And the reason I think of that quote is that this year has felt like the slow return journey to a place of peace and rest after a long exile in a hard and foreign land. It’s nice to think that we are coming back to a good place – not quite there yet, but we can see it on the near horizon.

  7. Connie
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Ironically, or maybe not so?, the quote that your blog is named after:

    There is no such thing as a complete lack of order, only a design so vast it appears unrepetitive up close.

    – Louise Erdrich (The Bingo Palace)

    This year has been so chaotic that I’m wondering if there is any sense of order… or if and when I will catch my breath and fall back into place again. I have tried over and over to remind myself that things are likely happening for a reason.


  8. Barb
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    From Alice in Wonderland: “There is no use trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

    – Lewis Carroll

    I need as much practice as possible believing seemingly impossible things.

  9. Susan
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Two things have continued to resonate with me throughout the year. (And I suspect there’s still work to be done along these lines in 2012.)

    Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do. ~ Brene Brown


    It was a gift they could never love her entirely – for then she was forced to do it herself. ~ Terri St. Cloud

  10. Haile
    Posted December 13, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    This year was all about stepping back and slowing down. So here’s a line from Spanish Pipe Dream by John Prine:

    “Plant a little garden; eat a lot of peaches;
    Try an find Jesus on your own”

    Here’s the video for your viewing pleasure:

  11. Posted December 14, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Ooh, I love this question and all of the responses so far (especially the “believe in six impossible things before breakfast” — one of my all-time favorites, but I forget!).

    I have two:

    Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

    ~Lao Tzu

    The Universe is conspiring on your behalf.

    ~Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)

    I posted the Lao Tzu quote to my blog a while back and I remember you commenting on it! It reminds me to appreciate that I really do have everything I need.

    The Coelho quote reminds me that it’s also fine to dream big. And even though I need to show up and do the work to accomplish my dreams, the Universe is working on my behalf too.

    I’m rejoicing that the Universe conspired to bring us together! I’m SO glad to know you!

    Much love,


  12. Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    It’s actually the first three lines of Charles Bukowski’s “The Laughing Heart”

    your life is your life
    don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
    be on the watch.

    So appropriate for my 2011 with its uncertainty and questions and conflicts.

    Great question, by the way.

  13. Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Ha! I knew you would have the BEST quotes!! 🙂 I love you so much for playing along, and for this reply. I am totally writing these down!!