What if you could only pick one word to describe you in 2020?
I had a friend ask me this intriguing question, and I am still working on it. Why? Because it’s harder than you think to choose one word – Your Word, if you will – that meaningfully encompasses the things you want to focus your personal work on for the next 12 months. Since she asked, I’ve thought I had My Word for the year, and then I see another word that better describes who I want to be.
I started with “authentic.” I chose this word to describe my goal for all interactions in 2020. But as I thought about it more, the real word that kept creeping into my consciousness was “adventure.” Adventure can mean many things to different people, but it means “an exciting or remarkable experience” to me. And isn’t it true that if I approach each human interaction with true authenticity in 2020, I am guaranteed a remarkable experience?
I didn’t say a good experience, mind you. Even a bad experience can be exciting. I remember the time I rode my first roller coaster at Cedar Point, and mid way through the ride, in the most terrifying and death-defying dive down the first rickety wooden descent, my mother took her arms off of me. To this day, I can still see Lake Erie in the distance as we rounded the first curve. In fairness, my mother may have taken her arms off of me because she had to… hang on. But as a child, it was a remarkable, out-of-body experience.
When was the last time you took a big adventure? What do you remember from it? My guess is you remember how new it felt, how your heart rate went up and how your senses came alive. This feeling is what researchers call reaching your “memory muscle.” It’s the part of your brain that deposits and preserves all of the things related to big experiences – both the information and feelings that come together to bring back those vivid memories we cherish. I always remember the day I saw my first real beach in California, and if I close my eyes, I can still smell the salt air.
This past Christmas, I gave all of my children “adventure” money, along with a few presents, to help them exercise their vital memory muscle. There as one stipulation: They must experience an adventure, and then tell me about it. As their mother, I secretly hope they will temper each adventure with an ounce of cautiousness. However, as someone who learned everything I know through travel and adventure, I must relax. I could not be who I am without exciting, remarkable, and even a little more terrifying memories of the moments that gave me my voice, my strength and my word.
I hope they will keep theirs.