I began last year with a green Leuchtturm1917 dotted journal and a neat row of writing markers to go with it. They traveled around a lot like a new couple happy to be seen in the living room, on my bedside console, at the corner of my desk. And I wrote in it craftily while sitting on the couch or right before falling asleep until I stopped the habit, some time in March, then May, and then in October, and then for a second in December. I think complete insecurity in the time period made searching for internal answers feel less prudent when I needed concrete answers from the real world. Also, many of us were forthright with our fears and concerns; we relied so much on text chains and mutual commiseration that I didn’t feel the urge to work them out so much in my personal notebook.

What I had not remembered until looking at the first pages recently is that my word for 2020 was almostcontrol.” Ha- that sounds ridiculous now. What about this year showed any control? I am glad I was unsettled enough with the term back at the shiny start of the year and recognized its underlying terror and replaced it swiftly with the word “focus.”

I’m a little pleased that pre-pandemic me crossed it out and explained to myself that the word indicates failure. Alas, I didn’t fill up my journal, and so I’ve reacted this week. I panicked that 2020 would be gone, and though we’ve said we want it to be over as it was the longest year of our time, I didn’t want to forget what my life looked like during the year that paused the world. So I started a quest last week to fill it up, not so much with my own words, but with articles and literature of the time.

That effort got me scrolling through my phone to see what each month this year looked like. I looked at Kal and said things like, “Did you know it was February when we went to that diner with Zade’s friend?” I loosely picked a few pictures from each month and spent a few hours over a couple days making an album. The best part of the project is I knew I couldn’t go too wrong with it: that I was trying to preserve the year was ironic enough, and I wasn’t trying to make it neat. In fact, the picture that made the cover was of a stack of firewood. We have many stacks of those around the house since a storm took down our favorite oak tree this year. It’s like the old saying of lemons and lemonade but this time with a tree and logs.

I wrote a list of word associations at the front of the album; I only stopped because there was a word limit, and I wanted to be done with the project.

My neighbor told me yesterday that she wrote her gratitude list for the year. She said despite it all, it was a good year for her; she enjoyed her family more and appreciates letting go of the extra stresses. She wrote her intentions for next year and has her list of goals, and I could see she felt lighter having done so.

I, however, probably won’t write a list of goals for 2021. I think 2019 momentum and security made me feel as though if I focused even more on my goals, I would accomplish more and therefore feel better. I was in a position then to feel that more control and more focus would be best. That feeling helped launch my focus for the year, and I’m grateful to it. But for the last few months, I’m most shaken at my core Capricorn belief that productivity is the essential preservation of my feelings, that doing it all is vital and important to them. I am still disquieted by what I’ve let go and what I’ll do with the knowledge that slower and softer may be here to stay in this new and disoriented year. I’ve already thrown a blanket and pillow on this year’s uncomfortable couch and now don’t know what I’ll do about it.

I will try to consider a word, phrase, or quote that may help project my intentions for 2021. I’ll think on it while I purge the pantry and clean out the fridge today. I will do so knowing that neither of the two actions will have a grand, lasting effect on my feelings. They are the maintenance before the joy, often the eve of whatever else happens. Rather than pre-wrangling next year in any way, I think I’m going to be true to my instinct and sit still with the idea and my new purple notebook a little longer. I’m undecided. In any case, I know more and more that everything has always been there, happening. We just come to it when we do.