Again, it’s time to select a word as my guiding light for the new year. I want my word choice for 2023 to be rich and velvety, a comfort as I move into an alien world of Medicare and swelling knuckles. I choose the word… savor. It’s a first cup of coffee in the morning kind of word. A sip of newness. A warming of the palms of my hands against the sides of a ceramic mug or over the crackle of burning wood. It’s sunset. Or better yet, sunrise.

            The word savor conjures a kind of inner satisfaction, a long breath inhaled and then, exhaled, a purposeful pause in the action of busyness. To savor is to await and then receive. It is a kind of orgasm of spirit, delight meeting satisfaction. To savor is to step back and consider, to be grateful. Choosing the word savor gives me a deeper appreciation of fleeting moments, times so quick to come and go that if I am not conscious and aware, I will miss everything. Now is the time to not miss anything.

            Like every new year, I set goals and most of them drift away to memory. Every year, I reset my sights on the care of my body. I think about all of the words I have failed to write, that I abandon; literary orphans confined to quiet corridors in my mind or left stagnant in every ink pen I have not lifted.

            I keep telling myself now is the time but my scattered energies and easy tendency toward boredom are convenient distractions to keep from savoring little things – my terrier’s soft fur, the quiet grin on my husband’s face from across the room, a thank you from my mother-in-law as I deliver a small plate of Christmas cookies to her coffee table.

            To savor brings a tinge of sadness over what’s been lost, when I’ve forgotten to look back as I walk away, to say I love you one more time, to reach for and touch someone’s hand. There are times I forget to put my fork down and purposefully chew, to inhale steam from of a bowl of seafood gumbo over rice, or cautiously sip a homemade broth, titillating nerve endings and allowing aroma to wake my memory.

            What I am coming to understand is that pain and suffering ask to be savored right alongside joy and pleasure. This is a difficult lesson and unwelcome request and I am ill-equipped with a skill set for this. When I confront the reality of a loved one’s death, witness homelessness and addiction, acknowledge a friend’s undesirable diagnosis, or mark my own slow deterioration, I can deny reality or become almost creative in my approach to dilemma. To sit with loss and hardship and savor the ways these challenges will cause me to adapt and transform may be the greatest lesson this new year word experiment will present. I guess I will find out.

            Maybe my 2023 word choice gives me a new way of making resolutions. I resolve to try new foods, learning to take and enjoy time in the kitchen. I resolve to be still more often. Since I am retired and my “birthday number” continues to increase, maybe I’ve earned the hours to be at rest. I resolve to give myself permission to read without guilt. I resolve to pay attention to this gift and passion for writing. I resolve to love better, to look up and see the sky, to relish the aroma of the seasons and listen, really listen to songbirds, creek gurgles, and the new music my nieces text to me on Spotify. I resolve to keep my body active by swimming and walking, to use those pickle ball racquets, peddle my bike, and join in a yoga class now and again.

            Savor… so close to the word savior, and isn’t that word packed with meaning? I continue to want to be in communion with a Spirit greater than myself. I find joy in prayer, by which I mean, conversation with God. That’s where miracles happen. I ask for help, and a friend texts to share a word of encouragement. I don’t know the next step and I wake up from a dream with a new idea. I can’t find the next right word, and somehow this rusty brain hears a whisper. Of course, an online thesaurus helps too confirming the cliche that God helps those who help themselves.

            Happy New Year. If you wish, pick a word and resolve to go on an adventure with it. Our lives are so precious. Making time to love, to serve, and to be intentional in littleness is a gateway to savor each day with verve. A pinch of salt and a dash of Tabasco don’t hurt either. Have fun, be well and savor each spicy moment of 2023!