I’m about to ramble. There’s no thread of cohesion in this. No unity of theme or metaphor. You’ve been warned, LOL. When I was younger, every New Year’s Eve, I would think “this is going to be the party to rock all parties. This is going to be the one I’ve been waiting for all my life.”
It never was. I’ve never been to that New Year’s eve party I always saw in the movies. As I got older, I quit trying, and began to spend New Year’s alone. It was my time to reflect on how I got to where I was, what I wished I had and hadn’t done that year, and what I was going to do better next year. I make one-year, three-year and five-year lists every New Year’s eve, setting forth detailed personal and professional goals and analyzing them relative to the prior year. Thrilling, huh? While it’s great in terms of helping me accomplish goals, it gives me a dangerous tendency to say things like “when I achieve this, I’ll be happy” or “when I meet this deadline or goal, I’ll take a break.” When you’re always living in the future, happy and breaks tend to get fewer and farther between. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful. This is a melancholy moment. Sometimes I let myself wallow in minor melancholy moments to stave off a major one farther down the road.
I’ve lived most of my life assessing what I’m doing in these stark terms: In the moment when I lay dying, what will I look back on and decide made my life worthwhile?
Last night, I culled my memory for my happiest moments, beginning in my teens and moving up to the present. It was a lot of fun. I had an all-over warm glow by the time I was done. But I also had a startling realization. Not one of my happiest moments revolved around my career. Not that my career doesn’t make me happy—it does. I’m the luckiest woman in the world to be able to do something I love so much for a living, and be connected to so many of you through it.
But those truly stellar moments, those perfect ones that light up your soul and make you feel on fire—every single one of them revolved around three primary elements: the people I love, animals, nature.
Not once did I think “Oh, and there was that day I hit the New York Times bestseller list for the first time!” or “And the time I won the Rita award at the Saenger theatre!” (Although that was an awesome night, in part because I was in New Orleans and any night in New Orleans is magic. I love the town like I love Key West. There was also the thrill of walking through the dark city streets in a great evening gown with my friends, carrying a gold statue. But what I recall most about that night is that my baby sister, who’d flown in with me to attend the event, had to leave due to a medical emergency back home. I missed her! We would have had one of those parties I always kept trying to find on New Year’s, LOL.)
But I digress. Let me get back on track, sort of. I’ve decided that today I’m only going to write down the one-year list. And instead of tallying the things I plan to accomplish, I’m only going to write about the many stellar, take-your-breath away moments I want to have this year. I’m not thinking about writing or professional goals. I’m thinking about the personal stuff, and trusting the rest of it will find its way, if I work hard and love what I do.
I want to spend a lot of hours walking on the beach this year. I want to go zip-lining in Costa Rica with people I love. I want the best Pina Colada in a pineapple Cancun has to offer. I want to take one of those Fantasy Car Tours and test drive Barrons’ cars. I want to meet a ton of you at the events we have planned this year, and talk about life, not work. I want to read a lot of great books and take naps in the sun.
I’m finishing up Shadowfever in 2010 and you’ll have it in your hands sometime this year. I’m excited (and sad!) that Mac’s story is coming to a conclusion, but even more excited about what’s coming next!
Here’s my quote as the year draws to a close: Life’s not measured by the number the breaths you take, but the number of moments that take your breath away.
So tell me two things:
What is your favorite, most meaningful quote? And what is your #1 New Year’s resolution?
PHOTO NOTES: Above pictures are a couple of my happy moments. 1. In Key West beneath a giant bougainvillea, on my way to a used book store, run by one of the most cantankerous men I've ever encountered who had a selection of hard-to-find books that could make me weep with envy. 2. Crawling around, chasing one of Hemmingway's six-toed cats while touring his Key West estate.