As part of my end of the year project to get both my literal and figurative “house” in order, I found myself cleaning out my dresser. The sock drawer is always the most interesting part of this chore. Seeing what miscellaneous artifacts of your previous year were stuffed in between unpaired socks always comes with some mixture of dread and surprise.
Amongst the flotsam of old receipts, lottery tickets, and cards was a plain white envelope. It was not addressed in a traditional sense but instead said, “2021 Wishes. Do not open until 12/31/21.”
While it was clearly my handwriting, I had no recollection of writing those words or placing any contents within the envelope. Unsure whether this was a solitary project or one that I cajoled my family into doing with me, I asked them if they had any memories of such an exercise. “No idea.” was the consistent refrain.
So there we were on New Year’s Eve sitting around the kitchen table ready to see what mystery was written within. Upon opening the envelope I pulled out five index cards. On each were written five wishes. As I matched the handwriting to each family member and passed the cards accordingly, their faces lit up with a recognition that yes, they indeed had written these last year.
What was remarkable about these wishes was how consistently simple and modest they were. No doubt a reflection of the trying times with which they were written. We did not wish for anything material or grandiose. Instead, we wished for things like “seeing my children hug their grandparents” or being able to “spend more time with friends – without masks.” The most ambitious was to take “a short overnight trip.”
Because of their simplicity, all of our wishes have appeared to come true. The fact of which brought a small thankful smile to each of our faces.
These simple wishes were a reflection of what ultimately matters most to us – connection. Life can often feel complicated, when perhaps it shouldn’t be.
It reminded me of the only poem I know by heart.
“I wish to lead a simple life,
A house, three kids, a loving wife.
“I wish to have simple thoughts,
Of things I have, not of things I’ve not.
I wish to see the simple things,
Like flowers and smiles of kids on swings.
I wish I did not know what I do,
So that these wishes could come true.”
I wrote that poem in my early twenties. The “wish I did not know what I do” was a reference to dealing with the psychological baggage from my childhood, the guilt I felt in leaving my family to pursue greener pastures and the anger at what I saw as a largely unfair world.
While I still wrestle with all of the above, the events of the last few years have also provided clarity of what is important to me on a daily basis – and perhaps to you as well.
There is another envelope in my sock drawer with instructions not to open until 12/31/22. As things seem slightly better than this time last year, I wonder if this collection of wishes will maintain the modesty and simplicity of their predecessors. I suspect so, as the lessons learned over the last two years seem ingrained within us.
Of course, I won’t know for sure until this time next year. I’ll try to remember to let you know.
Until then best wishes for your 2022.