Why I’m Writing a Letter to Every Day in 2017
I remember, Pre-Internet, at the beginning of each year a set of skinny journals would appear on store shelves, all lined together in a box. Their spines read January, February, March and continued with all the lovely names of the year. Just looking at them made me think about all the life I could record in all of that allocated paper. January would be the time for dreams, March the time for putting plans into action, June for jumping in lakes and racing outside to see the sunset. And it all would be gathered in a box that said 1995. I’d stack it in my closet along with the other brightly colored boxes and have concrete evidence that life had been lived fully. I’d write my stories down and be able to recall, like pins on a map, specific journals that held specific memories. I’d be able to string together all my Julys and count how many strawberry shortcakes I ate with my feet in the water, wet hair drying in the sun.
I’ve always been an encourager. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to help things along. This was no different in 2015 when I showed up to the Internet with a blog and the dream of a Juvenile Fiction series. This year is no different. I want to show up every day with hope in word form. This is what it means for me to be a writer – to encourage the possibility out of each day.
In 2011, one of my best friends said, “Emily, you are good at life.” This sentence came in the middle of one of the hardest seasons – the kind that had me forgetting who I was and where I came from and that goodness was still possible. Those words blasted through all of the numb nothingness and lit my heart for a few seconds like a fire, a hopeful pinprick of light in a dark landscape.
My heart grabbed on to this sentence because it was true. I had just spent the last seven years listening to people’s stories, hiking mountains, walking beaches, and spending way too much money on fancy Friday dinners with friends. I showed up to life wanting to help people discover who they were, and we did that on one million walks underneath magnolia trees, over thousands of pancakes served in my kitchen.
In 2011 I signed up for much of the same, but my mom had cancer and I was back home in the Midwest forgetting about beaches and mountains and remembering what it was like to return to a place. So I wrote “You are good at life” on a notecard and stuck it on my mirror along with the quotes “Practice resurrection” by Wendell Berry and “God still creates miracles out of scraps from a kid’s lunchbox” by Greg Coates.
Those three squares of paper tacked to my mirror were the most true things I could dwell on that year; the only words that shot light into the dark. I think it’s because the hope (exactly what I was lacking) was so evident in each one, and I required a stockpile of hope for 2011. I subconsciously made everyone I knew carry around buckets of hope for me and my mom and the unknown, the Not Knowing What Was Going To Happen. I made them do it because I couldn’t, and it was previously my role to show up with hope like flowers or wine to a dinner party. So I waited, hopeless, and kept reading those notes on my mirror, and thought about how nice it would be to carry around buckets of hope for people sometime in the future.
2011 was the doorway to a new season of life. Season seems like too small a word. It was a turning point, a deepening of my heart through pain and suffering. As pain does its work in us, may we be drawn closer to others and farther from bitterness. May compassion and connection be sown deep in us.
It’s 2017 and, as time has the privilege of unfolding us, 2011 seems like a place I visited once – sharp moments surrounded by fuzzy memories. Quite a few new years have happened since then , and I’m back to carrying my buckets of hope, which is why I’m writing a letter to every day in 2017. I’ve always approached the world with my notebook and pen, and I want to do for you what my friend, Sarah, did for me in 2011. I believe that you can live the most full life possible, and if you can’t believe that right now, don’t worry. I’m carrying around buckets of hope for you.