Someone asked this morning whether I was ready for the new year. I reflexively replied, “Yes.” After all, I added, 2016 will arrive regardless of my state of readiness. So, I’m as ready as can be. On second thought, I’d guess the opposite is closer to accurate; I’m not so ready. Honestly, I’m not convinced anyone can truly ready themselves for all that new years tend to, without warning, dump into our laps and mock, “Deal with it.”
Being “ready” for the new year is something like waiting in a carnival’s dunk tank. From your perch inside, you root against every contestant who pitches balls at the tank’s target. The longer they miss, the longer you stay dry. But, inevitably, along comes a ringer who pitched for his college baseball team, and who squarely places the ball on the bullseye — once, twice, again and again.
Much more than “ready,” I’m anticipatory. I sit atop the perch enjoying the day’s sunlight, all along expecting life to hurl things at my target and to occasionally strike the bullseye and dislodge me from my perch. I expect the brisk shock of cold water to splash about as life rocks me from my comfortable place.
You enter the tank hoping to stay dry, but knowing that soaking wetness awaits. That’s the nature of entering the tank. It’s what we agree to when we sign onto this project called life.
So, we prepare.
Preparation and readiness, while similar, aren’t entirely the same. Preparation equips you to handle those events you readily expect will come. You make provision for the unexpected. Then, when the doorbell rings, or the alarm sounds or the phone vibrates you’re ready.
No amount of preparation readies you for the actual moment of surprise — that millisecond between the initial ball strike and the inevitable slide into the waiting tank basin.
In 2015, I wasn’t necessarily ready for the sting of betrayal, or the disruption of strong friendships, or the regret of love denied or the disappointment of failures and countless self-inflicted wounds. I expected events would surface because I’ve learned eventualities exist. In that way I properly predicted that life is consistently inconsistent.
All the same, I wasn’t either ready for the many unexpected rewards the past year sat upon my doorstep. The gift that evolved how I understood and grew food, the companionship that blossomed out of the blue, the business opportunities that emerged through no real effort of mine, the unpredictable resolution of a long standing obstacle, the compliments and encouragements from admirers I didn’t see watching and – in between it all – the successes and accomplishments that came in spite of me were too in the mix.
That is life as well. Sometimes, the splash we feel is God’s angels dousing us with an exhilarating bucket of ice-cold Gatorade to celebrate our victories. All splashes aren’t created equal. Some are actually enjoyable.
Perhaps that explains my instinctive, initial response. When it comes down to it, I expect 2016 to do what each new year does and has done since day one: fill my days with moments of exuberance and joy and wonder in between the events that knock me from my perch. If I can’t BE ready for that, at a minimum I can GET ready.
© Copyright Jonathan Clarke, 2015, All Rights Reserved