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Zora Neale Hurston was a prominent literary fi...

An Underrated Author, Zora Neale Hurston. Image via Wikipedia

One of my favorite quotes from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is this:

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.

In the past few years, I’ve discovered the veracity of this quote. Mostly the questions and answers lately have run like Gatorade & Nike commercials. One year asks, “Is it in you?” and the next answers “Just Do It.” Some years are harder than others to classify by either a question or an answer; it seems that the has answered old questions and posed others. But, after careful inspection, I find that for me this is not the case, that I’m just misinterpreting an answer as a question, or thinking a question is really an answer.

When I sat down to think about this year, whether this was a year that asked a question or provided an answer, my thoughts immediately turned to the beginning of the year. 2010 started off with financial crises. As the year meandered on, there was death, car troubles, housing troubles, job burnout, and several falterings of faith and will. This year seemed to be asking “How much more can you take until you break?” Maybe it was asking “How are you going to get yourself out of this one?” But the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I’ve realized this year hasn’t been asking me anything.

I’ll give you years that asked questions: 2007 & 2008. Those years asked “How bad do you want it?” I imagine Pennywise the Clown (played magnificently by Tim Curry) growling at me “Don’t cha want it? Don’t cha want it?” Out of school, starting over in Florida, trying to make all the money I could to go back to school, feeling hopeless. How bad did I want my degree? I answered “very badly” with every hour I worked, every application I filled out, every time I went to the English Department Advisor, the liberal arts advisors, and the transfer student offices to get my credits properly transferred and get into the classes I needed.

But that was only the beginning. I graduated, then lost a job, lost an apartment, and had a decision to make between staying and finding a job and crawling back to my family begging for the job I hadn’t taken. My independence, following my own dream/vision for my life: How badly did I want it? I stayed and found a new job and new apartment.

2009 & 2010 were different animals altogether. While they seemed the same (the housing/financial issues, the uncertainty, second guessing decisions), they were answering a question (or questions) I had been ignoring in the back of my mind since well before any great hardships befell me: Can I do it? Can I succeed? Will I be able to support myself and make decisions for myself? Will I be able to trust myself to make hard decisions for myself? Can I live up to the expectations placed upon me?

I thought these past four years have been asking me how badly I wanted certain things, but really two of those years were asking me how badly I wanted to know how strong of a person I was, what I could handle, whether or not I was ready to be a woman. The other two years were confirmation and reaffirmation. These were things I’d seen before, but I just hadn’t understood what they really were there to teach me. I’d failed the course and had to take it again.

So what was the answer? The answer was:  

You can do it if you want to do it. Please refer to previous years. Do you want it? You can find a job and keep it, or you can get a job and get fired. You can chose the place that’s right for you, or you can be forcibly ejected from the wrong place. You can spend another two years battling to get on schedule and break even financially, or you can reimplement the tools you used to get you on track and ahead before. You can’t stand in mediocrity and grab greatness; you can’t stand anywhere and grab greatness. You have to chase greatness, trap it, then take care of it like any other pet. It will require work, discipline, and innovation, but you have those things. You cannot be satisfied with not being where you’re supposed to be, and now you know you can get to where you want to be.

Now that I know what I’m able to do with God and the skills He gave me, 2011 is wide open for me to move into and begin implementing the things I’ve learned.  But first, I need to wrap up the year, evaluate my progress on accountability (the word of 2010), and set forward my 2011 goals.

Was this a year that asked you questions or gave you answers? What were the questions/answers? What was your progress this year? What are your 2011 goals?