In the past I’ve found it easy to choose my word for the year; a word has come to me, and I’ve hit on it – immediately believing that the fact it came into my head at all was proof that it deserved to stick around for a year!
But this time it has been different. I chose “anchored” last year – I had no idea how much I would be tested in this respect, and definitely did not know how apposite it would be. It’s made me think that there is more power in one word than I’d ever imagined. This thought has made it much harder to choose a word – I guess I’ve been terrified of what prophetic power it might hold!
I kept coming back to the word believe but the true definition is to “accept that (something) is true, especially without proof”. In the end this didn’t seem to be quite right and so finally I accepted that the word I was looking for was faith. I’d shied away from its religious connotations – however faith is what we need to stay anchored to our values and it sums up exactly what is most severely tested when we find ourselves in difficult times. We can become distrustful – both of those around us and ourselves – and this is precisely when we need to remain calmly confident.
I’ve been reminded of the life-history of the writer Charles Bukowski; a German-American writer born in 1920. His early years did not go smoothly; after a rough childhood he dropped out of college and ended up in dead-end jobs with a string of failed relationships behind him. He spent years battling alcoholism but, nevertheless, he was always writing down his thoughts; about the ordinary lives of working-class Americans, the tedium of his working life and about his numerous relationship struggles.
When he told people that he was a writer, nobody believed him and after being rejected many times by the literary world he took a monotonous job working at a Post Office, where he worked until he was nearly fifty. Finally he decided to quit and focus on his writing! Two weeks later he had finished his first novel – Post Office – and for the following 20 years he wrote hundreds of short stories and novels. By the time he died, he’d become a well-known literary figure.
Bukowski clearly suffered from wavering self-belief, yet once he decided to trust himself he was unstoppable. His creative talent had been there all along he just need to have faith!