7 Word Talismans for 2017

sparklersAnother year has slipped away, and taken with it some of our finest. It was a hard year for many of us, and with frightening changes looming on the horizon, 2016 may have been a gentle prelude to the coming days. For now, the future has yet to be written…the year stands before us, fresh and blank, ready to be written on. As it is the seventh year in the decade, I want to share seven words that I think will be particularly important this year. Keep them in your mind. Practice them often. Use them to become the heroes and inspiring figures the world is so desperately in need of right now. Those who have gone before us are counting on us not to let things slip away into the dark.


Courage. It means more than blustering and spouting whatever comes into your head at the moment. It means standing up for the oppressed, demanding fair treatment for everyone, and risking your own comfort in order to help someone else. It means sacrifice, and the possibility of danger, and the knowledge that you are a creature that will one day die, but that in the meantime you will spend the precious moments of your life living as fully as you can.


Compassion. Our current culture is one of greed…we’re encouraged to get “what we have coming to us”, told that things are “our due”, that anyone can become rich just by working hard. The truth is that most people in the world (yes, even the U.S.) are born into poverty, and the odds are that despite their hard work, they’ll die in poverty. Many people suffer from the delusion that they are “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” and tell themselves that what they see around them (starvation, homelessness, and suffering) could never happen to them. For those of us lucky enough to never experience such things, we have the responsibility of looking out for the less fortunate, just as when we were younger it was our responsibility to look out for younger siblings or little kids on the playground.


Resilience. There will be times when you lose everything, when the dark presses in so close that the flame of hope seems to waiver and diminish. These are the times when we must draw strength from our gods, our beliefs, our visions of a better world, and one another. It is alright to experience moments of weakness and doubt. It is alright to fail. It does not lessen you, dear heart. Remember that though the dandelion is cut, polluted, trampled and eaten, still it comes back, over and over…still, it blossoms. May you be as resilient as this most beautiful of weeds.


Love. I often think that the English language is severely limited when it comes to expressing love. Many cultures have multiple words for it, each expressing a different variation. In this context, I don’t mean romantic love or lustful love, but the love that inspires you to look upon everyone tenderly. See them, not as strangers, but as friends, siblings, and cousins. Forgive small faults, let go of old hurts. See people for their potential, for what they have it in them to be. Then, help them get there.


Curiosity. When was the last time you learned something new, explored an area of your town, or spent an hour watching an ant hill? This year, remember what it was like to be a child, seeing the world in terms of possibilities and things to learn. Take a Coursera course, go to the park to watch the squirrels, try to puzzle out the language of crows. More than our thumbs, more than our ability to run for long distances, it has always been our curiosity that has kept humans adapting and thriving in new situations.


Growth. Start something new, and see it through the year. Whether that’s a project, a decision to change something about yourself, or just a plant. Tend it, nurture it, and don’t give up on it. In so many different mythologies, people were created to be gardeners and architects, piecing the raw elements of the world together into something grand and tending the young. Choose something that could use your attention, and help it thrive.


Creativity. The difference between the unadorned and the gilded is profound. One may simply serve a utilitarian purpose, but the other both serves that purpose and brings joy. All areas of our life could stand to be touched with a bit of beauty, whether that means wood burning your cooking utensils with geometric shapes, filling empty books with poetry, or planting wildflowers in a vacant lot. These little touches of care and inspiration can do so much to uplift us when times are dark.


I plan to paint seven little rocks with each of these words, and keep them in a bowl by the door. Each day I’ll take a word with me and keep it in my pocket as a reminder to practice these words throughout the year. Hopefully 2017 will be better, but if not, then my hope is that through these little word talismans, I’ll at least come out on the other side stronger.

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1 thought on “7 Word Talismans for 2017

  1. Ashley, I loved this post. Beautifully and thoughtfully written. Were you able to paint your rocks? I love this idea and plan to put it on my to-do list as a project for my little girl and myself.


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