“Attachment nails our desire to specific objects and creates addiction. Detachment is a liberation of those desires.”
-Addictions and Grace, Gerald May
“Everyone says: you must take sides, choose a political party, choose a philosophy, choose a dogma…I chose the dream of human love. Whatever I ally myself to is to be close to my love. With it I hope to defeat tragedy, to defeat violence. I dance, I sew, I mend, I cook for the sake of this dream. In this dream nobody dies, nobody is sick, nobody separates. I love and dance with my dream unfurled, trusting darkness, trusting the labyrinth, in the furnaces of love. Some say: the dream is escape. Some say: the dream is madness. Some say: the dream is sickness. It will betray you…The [world] I see is not the one the…world sees. This is the witchcraft of love. You can take sides in religion, you can take sides in history, and there are others with you, you are not alone. But when you take the side of love, the opium of love, you are alone.”
-The Four-Chambered Heart, Anais Nin,
“Letting others take care of their own affairs and not doing for others what they need to do for themselves is detachment. Not creating or preventing a crisis when it’s clearly not our business to be involved is detachment. Not manipulating others to carry out some aspect of their lives according to our wishes rather than according to their own plan is detachment. It is neither kind nor unkind to be detached. It is simply being in charge of the only things we need to be in charge.“
-Codependence and the Power of Detachment, Karen Casey
“Every man creates his meaning and form and goal. Why is it so important – what others have done? Why does it become sacred by the mere fact of not being your own? Why is anyone and everyone right – so long as it’s not yourself?”
- The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
I swear the word picked me. And if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times, there’s not much you can do once the word has picked you. I mean, you could, I suppose ignore it. But it’ll keep showing up, everywhere, like the cat that just keeps coming back. Or like a baby tucked into a basket on a cold winter’s night, left on your porch by some mysterious delivery man who rings the doorbell and runs. Anyone with any sort of heart, let alone curiosity, will eventually open the door and take the basket inside where it’s warm. Even if you can’t keep it, you can’t just leave it out there to starve or freeze to death.
I don’t choose words. They choose me. This is my fifth year picking a word. Free. Childlike. Messy. Vulnerable. Detached. And the words are getting curioser and curioser. Truth be known, I like that. I’d be the sort that would get bored with this word a year thing if I had to pick words that seemed normal, but made me yawn. Let’s just say there is no yawning with this year’s word, and perhaps I should also add that when I first pulled back the blankets from the baby I thought, surely this can’t be mine to own. But I did what any respectable person would do, I put the blankets back overtop that shocking infant mug and let the thing hangout in the corner for awhile.
I flirted with a few other words along the way: the je ne sais quoi attitude of “penache” in June mentioned by my friend Valerie, the mystical and disappearing qualities of “wind” in August, and “clairvoyance” in December, spoken of in a novella by Anais Nin. All of these words may well find their way into my 2013, they may in fact even be the decorative costumes my word dresses up in when it’s feeling a little frisky, but they are not in fact THE word that wants to burrow in under my skin and set up residency with me as the host.
In October my friend Janae sent me two books by Ayn Rand – The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. When I started reading The Fountainhead, which was in early November, I felt like I was chewing steak. When this happens I know I’m reading a book at precisely the right time. And all I could think about as I read was the word detach, detach, detach.
I had first been drawn to that word “detach” in 2010, sitting at a Benedictine Sister’s Retreat Center by myself on a bed in a sparsley decorated room reading a book called Addictions and Grace. Ever since then that word had taken on a new positive, healthy meaning for me, and when I started reading The Fountainhead I decided this was confirmation that this word detach was going to be a pretty good fit for me.
At first I didn’t want to tell anyone about it. Everyone will think sitting with VULNERABLE for 2012 made me crazy. They’ll think I’ve decided to ride the pendulum clear to the other side and put up walls and break off relationships. Outwardly I realized this would seem like the strangest word choice yet, but inwardly, there was a part of me begging to give it a shot. “Please, please trust that you desire this word. Please, please trust that this could be precisely the other shore that the boat vulnerable was sailing you towards. Please, please don’t shy away from it just because it may have the appearance of undoing everything you did by sitting with VULNERABLE.”
I mentioned the word to a few friends, trying it out for size, as if I had donned an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow polka-dot bikini and was stepping out from the locker room to get an honest opinion from a trusted source.
One friend said to me rather nervously, “If that’s what you pick, I’ll let you try the word out on me.”
“Why do you say it that way?” I asked.
“Because it makes me nervous that I might be setting myself up to lose you as friend.”
I realized then and there the word has baggage, and if I’m going to lug it around for a year, I’m going to have to kick-off some of the residual cling-ons so the load can be as light and carefree as I see it in my skull and feel it in my flesh.
I want this though, and I suppose in the end, that’s what matters. That if a part of you is screaming inside for some sort of permission, that you pay attention to all that screaming before the throat goes numb and the voice goes hoarse.
I’m cheering my way towards detached, cheering and clapping and laughing (you would not believe how much laughter is hidden in between the syllables of this word), and I’m stripping away assumptions and conditions and pre-suppositions so the handful of people I’ve learned to vulnerably let in close will know I’m not closing up shop and skipping town with a giant “Gone Fishin” sign on my front door and a dark impenetrable silence to fill the void between us.
Sure, I didn’t have to pick a word. But I wanted to. I didn’t have to say yes to detached. But I wanted to. I didn’t have to write a blog post sharing any of this. But I wanted to. Because detached has a certain understanding of vulnerable. They hang out. In fact, you might call them kissing cousins. And if they want to flirt, I’m going to fan the flame of that romance and pull up a chair and get nice and cozy warm to that fire and snuggle in for the adventurous long haul of 2013.