2018 reflection: lessons from the leaves

It’s that time of year again. The time where I (try my very best to) reflect on the year — the good memories and the ones that still bring back a residual ache when I try to confront them.

For as long as I can remember, eight has been my favourite number. That, and the fact that I truly resent purple — the royal, gaudy, pretentious, unnatural kind. Those two simple, yet polarized, thoughts — that I hated the colour purple and deeply adored the number eight — began to define me. Weirdly, I still take purple as a bad sign and eight as a good one. But maybe I should broaden my thinking because this one guy had multiple 8's in his phone number and ended up being pretty awful, and some of my favourite humans adore purple, even the royal shade.

Anyways, all of this is to say that I had high hopes for 2018, because, yes — perhaps you guessed it — the year has the number eight in it. Shocking, I know. And to be fair, this year was filled with more than a fair share of glorious, or as I prefer to call them, perfect, moments. But there was also more sadness, mostly the inexplicable kind that comes from inside you, the kind that lingers and subtly filters out the sun, than I am used to experiencing. Truthfully though, the universe doesn’t owe me anything. That is to say, this year wasn’t going to be automatically close to perfect because it contained a number that happened to be my favourite.

I learned that sometimes, probably more often than not, you have to make perfect moments. Search for them. Create them yourself. You can’t always wait around for them or begin to expect them. Like I said, I don’t believe the universe owes anyone, anything.

Although I have touched on the concept in previous annual reflections, I suppose I should again define what a perfect moment is. To me, a perfect moment is one where you wouldn’t change one thing in the whole wide world because that moment feels nearly too good to be true, causing a sort of calm yet commanding sense of pure happiness. Mostly these moments are unconventionally perfect, points in time many wouldn’t recognize as being special because they take it for granted or maybe have different priorities. Sometimes these moments fall into my lap, completely out of my control. But most of the time, they happen because I indulge in the moment or take the steps to put myself in that space at that time.

A perfect moment.

This can be as simple as lingering outside during a perfect snowfall, when the snowflakes are slow and gentle and fluffy as ****. Or putting down my cellphone to really look at the colours that comprise a sunset and think about how I could recreate that sky with paint and my fingertips.

For example, this was a perfect moment I wrote about on May 16:

Walking to night class on Wednesday when the sun is shining after a glass of rosé, listening to “one thing” by finger eleven after a lonely day, and you feel whole again.

I am so lucky to have experienced these moments, made special by people and places and perfect timing, or a combination of all three. Not to say that it’s all been elation and perfection — because that’s untrue — but that it has been an incredible myriad of emotions. An unpredictable dream of deep indigos alongside soft sunset oranges.

Something can be both heartbreaking and exceptional. I can’t regret the hardest of times because I wrote beautiful sentences to describe them afterwards, or because the experience served to help make me the human I am. For example, a previous year taught me what it meant to give yourself completely to someone, and then relearn how to breathe when you’re a tiny bit broken.

This year, I went through a few weeks (or months) where I felt distant, more than a little lost, and just empty. It sounds terribly corny, but it felt like I lost that spark that made me Lauren, the part of me that smiled all the way to campus for truly no good reason other than how in love I was with the people and buildings and feeling that was McMaster, the part of me that made it a priority to go out of my way to make those around me feel loved and seen and appreciated. I didn’t have the energy to do a lot of things; I fell back into my bad eating (or lack of eating) habits and I couldn’t find the moments of magic anymore. I didn’t really feel sad, but I definitely wasn’t happy. I remember thinking that I couldn’t really feel anything. It was a state (of what I described so eloquently as meh) I thought I couldn’t shake. But I did, eventually, and am very happy to say that I am starting 2019 feeling like myself again. Having experienced those months have filled me with a renewed appreciation for the moments and days and the feelings that come along with living while feeling like myself.

I’m thankful for the moments where my heart flutters and lurches and drops and soars. I’m thankful for feeling safe and at peace. I’m even thankful for the moments where I feel empty and lost and hopeless because it makes the moments where I’m sure of myself ones I’m able to be grateful for.

Also, in my annual recap, I tend to write about new lessons and experiences that differentiated the year from others. This means that I don’t write about the people and things that are a more constant fixture in my life, the friends and family (and my dog) that have supported and loved me for months or years. This in part stems from the fact that I can never thank them enough. But I hope if you are a friend or part of my family (or both), you know how much you mean to me. I see you and appreciate you and hope I can bring a sliver of the happiness to your life that you bring to mine.

My apologies that this letter is rather jumbled. I suppose all of that was a rather lengthy prelude to what comes next — eight things that happened in 2018:

That is all for now. Please let me know if you enjoyed this word vomit! I’m looking forward to creating (and living) a year worth writing about.

‘Till next year,

L xx

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