Every generation must feel as though theirs is the one to leave footprints on history: “Where you when…” insert your iconic moment. For children of the ’80s this includes the Columbia shuttle explosion and the ’60s can’t be discussed without the assassination of JKF.
But when we look back on 2011, there are so many moments it seems difficult, if not impossible to choose just one that will figure in the years to come as the definition of this one. This may be because I’m now in my thirties. Or because I live overseas, in the Middle East, one of the regions that was in the headlines on a monthly basis. Maybe because I scan my Twitter feed every few hours when waiting in line or for a delayed appointment. You might even say it’s the intersection of all three that has left me imprinted with the revolutions of 2011, the deaths of major figures, the earthquakes: each of these has left an impression on me about the fragility of life as we know it as well as the power of the individual to triumph.
While these major battles were been staged everywhere from Tunisia to Bahrain, on a personal level I experienced my own seismic shift. The voices in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain led me out of an office where I worked for others and into the classroom to teach young minds. I had promised myself for years that I would give my writing the full attention it deserved and this split from promoting the work of others towards focusing on marketing my own titles and bettering my craft happened in 2011.
I dipped into the digital publishing world with three manuscripts that had been declined by agents with form rejection letters and took the content straight to the reader.
Our son turned one, and on that first birthday he took five consecutive steps, thereby pushing out of infancy and tumbling into everything from furniture to glass partitions.
At year’s end, I look back on a year of sacrifices — skipping meals, hours of sleep, exercise goals — and can say each month has been well spent, meeting writing goals and expanding professional know-how. Along with all these milestones I’ve realized two things: if I don’t have anyone to celebrate them with, then they mean very little. And if I don’t turn off the constant connectivity all of those tweets, posts, and emails become a burden instead of a joy.
The fact that my phone went missing on a recent trip to visit family in family — a trip that while waiting for the plane to take off, I was still sending out emails to editors whose lack of preparation was causing a panic on my part — removed my wired tendency. The missing phone was confirmation of what I sensed but would not have the discipline to enforce on my own: it’s time for a break from being connected to everyone and everything and this may be God’s sign to take the phone out of my hand, and bring my brain back to the present moment. Otherwise none of it will have any meaning. And that’s a sacrifice I am not willing to make.