Word of the Year: Cherish

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2020 was supposed to be the year of returning to some normalcy for me. After concurrent pregnancies, I was coming back from maternity leave in early 2020, and I was ready to get off the survival train and onto some type of accelerated track to a dream life.

I found myself in survival mode times 3,000. After re-routing with COVID, I had two big goals for the year: one, keep our yoga studio alive online until it could open again in person; two, reopen the preschool where we hoped to send our daughters.

In December, both of those goals did not survive. Survival mode failed.

After investing years of my life and tens-of-thousands of dollars into it, our physical studio closed. After roping my whole family into its formation and draining my energy to open it, the preschool was a bad marriage for me, and my heart broke in recognizing we’d need to step away.

In the absence of those two goals – without the constant push to make them survive – I felt joyless many days. What was I working for? What was next? What did I see for my life day-to-day? Did I learn anything from the experience? Was there any silver lining at all? Without trying to survive, what was I trying for?

As a person who always wanted to excel, I was struggling with my track record. So far in life, I’ve quit or failed at many more things than those at which I’ve succeeded. I like to think I’ve succeeded at the ‘important’ things, but maybe I’ve only succeeded at the easy things. I began to wonder if I’m not an over-achiever.

Maybe I’m an average achiever.

Weddings are perhaps the most average of average things that feel so incredibly above average. I do love weddings.

I do like many parts of my life. I like our family room, with its giant hammock and scent of the stained wooden rocker. I like our bedroom balcony, with is peak of the Pacific between lush green hedges. I like my yoga drums, my air pods, and my pets. I like moving my body, drinking coffee, riding bikes to the beach, and my husband’s cooking. I also really like my husband.

Maybe I like my average life. Maybe I love it. Could that be enough?

It’s highly uncomfortable to sit around feeling average and not try to change anything. I’m certain I’ll be tempted to start another business, open another school, fill my planner, and do all the things that make me feel like an achiever. But, as much as possible, my goal for this year is to just cherish the time living an average life provides me.

Average people seem to have ample time to do average things. They seem to swing in hammocks and rockers, take in the views from their balconies, drink coffee, ride bikes, and gobble up the home cooking. They seem to like other people pretty well and avoid too many heated arguments. They seem to be great cherishers.

Maybe I’ll be extremely good at being average.

If it turns out I’m good at it, I’ll likely want to show people just how good I am at being average. I’m sure I’ll want to take photos and throw them up all over the Internet. I’m certain I’ll want to filter those photos to appear quaint and charming. I’ll want to hear, “Look at her! Her average life is so adorable we should all want it!” I’ll want to yell, “LOOK! I’m doing such a good job at not doing anything! Look what I’m doing! Everyone please stare at this average person and realize she is FAR ABOVE AVERAGE.”

I’ll try not to do that. I’ll try, just for this year, to just live life.

Take the journey with me. Try to cherish all the parts of your average life with no recognition, no symbolic photo album of highlights, no big bells and whistles to mark the passing of the average days.

What will 2021 feel like if we simply live it rather than trying to excel at it?