Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 3, 2008

2008 Theme: Truth

The poet Laura Salas laurasalas was the first I heard to suggest setting a theme for the new year rather than plain old resolutions that were bound to be kicked aside by Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I’m slow and late as usual, but came up with trying for truth as the stone to touch. I spent the morning before New Year’s Eve in a clinic with a friend who was sipping a jug of what we could technically call gunk to get a cat scan. She wore her angel necklace and I wore the bracelet she’d given me with a cherub at the clasp. P sipped the gunk, which was said to be flavored pina colada, through a straw with a parasol that a friend had given her and she saves for these occasions. It’s a beautiful gift, and I love P for her optimism among other things, but sitting in the plastic chair I realized I wasn’t expecting a miracle. The results truly may be bad or worse, and we’re hoping for bad.

P and I were teachers in the same school twenty-five years ago, and unable to have her own child, she’s helped me raise mine. She’s still teaching and I write children’s books, and our careers do fit our personalities: we naturally lean toward hope. But in the yellow chair, watching people come and go – who’s sick? who’s sicker? who’s managing the best? why can’t they supply better magazines?– I felt the strain in optimism, too, the tendency to charade or deceit. Sometimes life is plain sad. There’s always hope, but I struggle to see its different kinds: what’s good, what’s cheap, what’s zig-zagging, and what’s plain false.

I’m not planning to blog about P, but she is a big part of my life and my feelings for her are bound to creep into whatever I write: maybe those Inuit stuck on thin ice are going to feel in deeper danger than I could have conceived before. And I wanted to explain where my 2008 theme began and let my friends know how grateful I am for your kind words. I don’t plan on marching into darkness, but can I explore more the strength I might find looking straight ahead in writing and my life? I’ll always find some happy endings, because, of course, joy is part of the quest to see things clearly and to see them whole. I’ve got a healthy girl and husband, two happy dogs, a cat who’s mean but sometimes sleeps on my feet, which I like, new students to meet soon, a yoga class, good friends and much I’m thankful for. I have all the words I can use. But I need to learn the difference between the smiles I give because someone may need it and the smiles I truly feel. I want to see what I see with my own eyes, feel with my own body, while remaining a supportive friend. To take in the whole landscape. The stars, yes, but also the dark sky around it.



  1. I’m sending you both lots of love and hope, Jeannine.

  2. Wow – what a touching and honest post. Thank you for sharing – and my truth shine bright for you!

  3. I don’t even know how to reply except to say that your beautiful post touched me. Thank you.

  4. Thanks for a beautiful, touching post. I think what drives most writers is the quest for truth. We also read to discover truth.
    Hugs and prayers to your friend, and to you, in this new year.

  5. Jeannine, what a courageous theme. Sending warm thoughts to both you and P.

  6. Beautifully expressed. “I have all the words I can use”, so wonderfully and firmly put. You sound well outfitted for the march through the darkness and anywhere else you choose to go at and between those many stars. The best to your friend P…maybe she would appreciate hearing about your strain of optimism concerning her situation as she might want to confess the same, but I suspect you two have already shared this…

  7. You are right, P knows, she shares in part of her heart, but courageously focuses on the positive. I guess we all waver. Thanks for your smart words.

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