This article was originally published in my column Alchemy, in the Arvada Press on February 23, 2012, and is reprinted here with permission.
Because we have an extra day this Leap Year, I want to share my February-specific observations from my column.
February is “National ‘National Awareness Month’ Awareness Month” (NNAMAM). Yes, you read that right.
From the first day of February, I’ve made it my goal to articulate what I am aware of. For instance, I’m aware that this is a Leap Year. And that people who only get to celebrate their actual natal days once every four years can have a heckuva party this year.
I’m aware that we will find hidden treasures where we least expect them. I am aware that “giving” is more than handing over a gift. And that we should never judge a book by its movie.
I am aware that we can choose to make room for peace in our lives. And that peace takes work. And that we must work for peace.
I am aware that hand-drawn thank-you notes from the kids next door can make my day. And that third-grade girls in Turkmenistan look like—and sound like—third-grade girls anywhere.
I’m aware that everyone I meet is fighting some kind of battle. And that “courage does not always roar…sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’ ” (Mary Ann Radmacher).
I am aware that I have a fascination for Her Grace the recently married Duchess of Cambridge. And—after a chance encounter with Diana, Princess of Wales, on a street curb in Scotland—I am aware that she was even more lovely and gracious than I imagined. And I’m aware that royalty has no place in my concept of my own country.
I am aware that creativity can change everything. That ideas are sexy, too. And that, as Eudora Welty told us, “All serious daring starts from within.”
I am aware that war, any war, goes on too long. And that our freedom comes at very dear a price.
I am aware that I will never be a good mountain bike racer. But I am aware that finishing absolutely last in my one and only race was one thousand times sweeter that not finishing at all.
I’m aware that there is great beauty in potential. And that, as the late Amy Winehouse wrote, “It’s not a daydream if you decide to make it your life.” And that life is good when living with pets.
I’m aware that some people now consider songs from the 80s to be “oldies.” I’m aware that saving every single concert ticket, band program, piece of kid art, and favorite comic strip takes up a lot of room both in my closet and my memories.
I am aware that these are tough times. That these will never be the “good old days.” That friends can be family and family can be friends and that if you have both, you are very very fortunate.
I’m aware that it’s not all about me. Really. And that breathing does help. And that learning to shrug is the beginning of wisdom.
And that there is one more day this year to celebrate NNAMAM.