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My 3 Words: Healing, Perseverance, and Silence

Been thinking about Chris Brogan’s recommendation to come up with three words to guide their upcoming year. (H/T again to @Ron on Micro.blog for writing about it!) It wasn’t hard to come up with words – but it wasn’t easy to zero in on which ones to use. I changed them around twice before settling on this year’s words.

Healing. The husband recommended this rather than “Health.” I forget why, but I kind of like this word instead.

“Healing” encompasses the usual diet and exercise intentions, but it’s broader than that. I’ve been dealing with chronic pain – mainly abdominal and menopause-related, but lately spreading to my back and hips – that I handle with multiple doses of ibuprofen a day. (I suspect my doctors are so skittish about opioids that such medication isn’t even an option in their view.) Also, my knees are grinding and probably will require surgical attention. My hunch is that immediate attention to my eating habits will help, followed by a few more breaks from the ball-and-chain work habits I have. And yes, a doctor’s appointment or two are in order.

This word also covers other areas beyond physical health, like mental/emotional and spiritual. All of these areas – physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual health – certainly tie into the next word.

Perseverance. I am generally a lazy sort, which explains my utter lack of physical fitness and desire to retire at age 53. (That, of course, is not going to happen.) However, as I head into my 54th year this spring, my sense of mortality has intensified considerably. I preface any plans these days with “God willing,” and I begin 2020 with a heightened sense of urgency. It saddens me to realize not only how much time I’ve wasted in my life, but how much time I threw away because I dwelled on mistakes made through the years.

As much as I hate football now, I have a favorite player: Philip Rivers, the longtime Chargers quarterback, devout Catholic, and father of 9. He lives by the Latin motto Nunc coepi – Now, I begin. The motto didn’t originate with Rivers, but with Catholic figures such as Ven. Bruno Lanteri and St. Josemaria Escriva. The point, reiterated in Catholic tradition that goes beyond Lanteri and Escriva, is this: Begin again, pick yourself up, no matter how many times you fall. Keep beginning – in all you do, with God, with family, with friends – despite whatever stumbles you’ve made. Nunc coepi.

Perseverance is also a big theme in Catholic tradition and theology. There is “final perseverance,” or the preservation of the state of grace until the end of life. This certainly will play a part in this whole 2020 pursuit of perseverance in my own life, especially given that sense of mortality I mentioned. But perseverance in faith also means imitating God’s perseverance and patience with us; this, Pope Francis has said, strenghtens us not only to keep going, but to help those around us.

All this leads, in a way, to the third word.

Silence. I have spent hours upon hours of my life distracted with time wasters, particularly news media, social media, and other digital dalliances. (I even have a folder of apps on my iPhone called “Time Wasters.”) Largely removing Facebook from my life freed up a lot of brain cells, but that leaves other sources of noise, including Twitter and news websites.

My hope is that this word will guide me to step away from the digital noise, both on a daily basis and with periodic digital “fasts.” There are other ways to observe silence: turning off the car radio, keeping a regular Holy Hour at a local adoration chapel or church, occasional retreats. After seeing how much my anxiety and depression subsided with the end of my Facebook habit, I look forward to pulling back on Twitter and – even, or especially, during this election year – news media.

Here’s to a healthy, peaceful, and sane 2020, friends.