The passing of years is insignificant in the world of real things, a creation of structure-craving humans who invent calendars and mark the ripping of pages in an effort to pretend the real change doesn’t happen in minutes, doesn’t take us by surprise.

There’s plenty I’d like to change about my life as 2013 staggers to a close, and I will probably try to catch it in words and lists, but I want to remember, too, that all the best things in my life have been unplanned.

I planned college, then I was blown off course to a green-mountain valley where my soul would stretch in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

I planned my relationship to my parents and my hometown, then adolescence ended and my love for the solid, certain people who raised me, and for Palmetto trees stretching over the statehouse and the sky-pointing stretch of the stadium and the deep, low scent of the salt marsh and the quiet roads out to Gilbert, swelled in my heart and caught me entirely by surprise.

I tried to plan my friendships, and I failed. Instead, at moments it’s impossible to pinpoint, my life’s cast of characters made its entrances and exits, handing me lessons with both swings of the door that I wouldn’t have learned without them.

I planned my career, and stood secure in my own certainty, and now I find myself entirely unsure of where I’ll end up, where I want to end up, and how to get there. There are years that ask questions and years that answer, and 2013 bombarded me with questions. I want to take just a second as it ends to sit still inside the questions, to be covered by the pile without bothering to sift through its sharp pieces, and to ready myself for surprises.

Ask me what I expect in 2014, and I couldn’t tell you. I can’t even tell you what I want. But all the good things in my life were unexpected and unplanned, and I’m entering the next sweep of the calendar ready to be surprised again.

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