We have bid farewell to another year. Not just any year, when one considers the world wide vertical free fall that shook some of us, and walloped others. We observed unremitting turbulence, purloined wealth, displaced confidence, marred optimism, and a stricken economy. We will speak of 2008 with its own vernacular… housing meltdown, toxic loans, energy consumption, financial crisis, global market decline, record job losses and the worst of all… bailouts.

Also, in 2008, we saw weather extremes that flooded the Midwest, destroyed Galveston Texas, torched neighborhoods in California, and covered portions of the Northern states with artic cold, ice, and blowing snow.

We witnessed presidential history that gave us a blend of pride and relief. We saw our way past long held fears and stale traditions to open eyes and minds, clinging to hope with colorless optimism. Young people ignored the inherited belief that race mattered, and they delivered us from our own bias and improvidence.

I find that my world trembles a little when I say goodbye to a year, whether I leave it in a joyful sense of liberation, or in a bittersweet wistful way. That moment of letting go collides with my poise and composure.

It’s been that way my entire life.

I remember sitting on my parent’s bed as my sympathetic mother tried to calm her frantic, anguished little girl who desperately wanted to remain in kindergarten. The mere thought of going to grade school, with unknown teachers, foreign classrooms, and unpracticed routines, was simply unbearable for my young mind to receive.

There was wetness all over my cheeks and neck, and down around the collar of my blue cotton pull over. The sobbing left me damp and shaking. I was six years old and facing the most traumatic change of my life. Well, maybe not so much traumatic, in the big scheme of things. Still, the prospect of change generated extreme emotions in my pint-sized world. I was terrified by uncharted destinations, grieving the goodbye of that which was intimately familiar. Leaving kindergarten was my first moment of mourning. That’s how I experienced change then, and do so now only with a milder temperament. Change, for me, always spawns tears and dubiety.

Astonishing, though, is the multitude of times that I’ve spurred change when I could have clutched comfort. I ventured the unknown, opting out of usualness. Instead of an unvarying existence, I wrote my lease on life with month-to-month terms. Peruse my diary and you will see it is made up of frequent Olympian curves in the road.

Most people appear to have found their place. There seems to be an innate knowledge that their world is exactly as it should be. A home and a mate. Familiar surroundings and recognized faces. Neighbors and friends whose lives blend into their own story.

For some, change is a hindrance in life. An upheaval. Wholly unwelcome.

Change for me has been a seeming lifestyle. Evidence of an unsettled, vagabond soul. A wandering, curious mind steered by unquenchable passions and daunting dreams.

It’s hard to know what choices are good ones, and which impede upon our great potential. I’m entirely unsure what choice is right for me in this year ahead. One difference at this phase of life is that I am listening far more intently to the wiser woman I’ve become. While I may never be cautious, the wreckage of an earlier storm was profound enough to instill judiciousness in my pursuits.

The reckless abandon that has been my signature style is now influenced by contemplation and sagaciousness.

I want not to make wrong turns in my life. And yet I have no preconceived ideas on how to identify the direction that will be considered ‘right’ from ‘wrong’ once I have meandered my way along a path. Or barreled down it.

Dawn of 2009, my canvas is as blank and gapped as any self-portrait could be. The singular inspiration is that all possibilities are there to be tapped. I am unmapped. Sans envy for those whose year will mirror the one before.

I don’t know who I should be or where I should call home. I marvel at those who seem to have figured it out so effortlessly. Their choices are purposeful and potent. They jell into the meaning of their existence. I admire what strength and assuredness they possess. There is cohesiveness in their world, which is missing in mine.

I’m not regretful, though. I don’t wish another life or yearn for another experience. I’ve come to understand that I’m not cut of the same cloth. I’m not meant to be conventional and invulnerable. I am indeed eternally searching. And, in that state of being, there is risk and incertitude. There is also an extraordinary expedition to be taken, encountering people, places, and beauty. There is discovery that remains my driving desire.

The path may be untried, but what I do know is that I’m still finding Beautiful every step of the way.