Themes for the New Year abound. Commitment, focus, discipline, simplicity, gratitude, service…there are many ways to frame a reorientation of living. Here’s the one I’ve settled on as a hub for the work of my various writing platforms.
Funny word, thrive. Makes me think of “hive.” Which leads me to images of buzzing and working and community. (But let’s not buy into the one queen and a bunch of drones idea, though some of you might like that just fine.) And honey. Good stuff, in general. But that’s just word association. What does it mean to actually thrive?
Before I riff on the meaning of the word, though, I think I’ll riff on why I’ve settled on “thrive.” It’s simple: it has life embedded in it, it suggests both action and being, and it’s what I want for my wife, my kids, and everyone I care about. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” Sounds like thriving to me. And as I reflect, and reflect on my reflections (I know, I know…save the navel-gazing comments for later), it all seems to be trying to answer questions about what it means to be human, and what it means for human beings to thrive according to their nature. Questions of being and doing, of art and mind, of beauty and goodness, of relationship and faith–all of these point toward something beyond happiness (which is not a bad thing, by the way. Let’s not be reductionist on how highly we value happiness). For me, “thriving” doesn’t deny the physical and emotional weather that can go dark and stormy for certain periods of time, but rather orients us to how to meet those days with energy, grit, optimism, and faith.
Of course, there’s going to be a fight over who’s to say what human “thriving” is. I saw one comment on a blog where a commenter argued that a successful killer might feel like he’s thriving if he hasn’t been caught and is enjoying his “work.” And I suppose evil can thrive. Shoot…I don’t want that to be true. But human “being” and “doing” is not thriving if evil is thriving. Evil destroys the kind of thriving I’m talking about.
But I don’t want to amend my thought by saying “good thriving” or “thriving according our nature.” Messes with the simplicity of things.
For the moment, here’s what I mean, and around these ideas is where you’ll find me writing, blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking. (Really…Facebooking?): Humans are designed to traffic in lots of dynamic process and states of being. Certain things add to life, lift mind and heart, add strength for the moments when we have to go to war, and make life seem worth living in a big way. Other things tear at us, destroy our confidence not only in ourselves but in humanity itself, dog us with constructions of reality that present us with doom and gloom scenarios from this moment until the day we die. The moment-to-moment negotiation in mind/body/soul/spirit between the additive things and the destroyers is what days are made of.
My commitment is to work to make my writing and artistic work land on the “additive” side. What words can I find that might add to the possibility of your thriving today?
Is “thrive” a word that works for you?
What do we need to thrive? I think I riff on this one for a quite awhile.
Did you see the sky this morning? Gorgeous…