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Lessons learned from last year's calendar
Scripps Howard News Service


December 29, 2005

At the end of the year, I like to look back on where I've been by following an ink-smeared trail that looks as if a chicken had trotted across the pages of my calendar. I retrace its path from January to December, and then when I'm finished, I try to picture where it'll trot to next?

This is no easy task. I've been working on it for years and it's not getting easier.

For one thing, the chicken tracks are getting harder to decode. Either my handwriting is getting lazier or the chicken feed is starting to ferment.

Here's an example. An entry for April 27 appeared at first to read "Confirm witches fall."

Suffice it to say it did not ring a bell. But after further consideration, I realized it was a reference to a speaking engagement in Texas: "Conference in Wichita Falls."

Here's another: On August 3, I wrote: "Mask the plunderer, 1 p.m." It took a while to recall that it was the day Mark, the plumber, repaired a leaky drain.

One entry - a simple lopsided heart scrawled on May 21 - made me laugh out loud when I finally remembered what it was for: My wedding day.

I did not forget getting married. I swear. I'm just not accustomed to seeing the date on the calendar. After seven years as a widow, it wasn't something that I ever expected to see again.

Calendars are funny, aren't they? They have their own agendas. In January, we try to enter all the dates we can think of - the birthdays, the anniversaries, all the milestones of our lives.

But come December, when we look back, the days are filled with all sorts of things we never dreamed would happen.

Some say the best way to prepare for the future is to study what has happened in the past.

Maybe so. But the heart isn't big on history. It likes to make things up, to write the script of our lives as we go along.

What happened last year - or in the last 50 - is no sure predictor of what will happen next. We don't have to be slaves to our histories. Anyone can change. Everything is possible. Anything can happen.

Still, there are things we can learn from last year's calendar.

It can tell us, for example, the names of the people we hold dear - family and friends, old and new - along with their birthdays and anniversaries and graduations and such, all the occasions that draw us close.

It can tell us how we choose to spend our time - the places we like to visit, the things we like to do.

It can remind us, as it should, that our days on Earth are numbered. My brother buried his wife in August. In October, I lost a great friend. Seeing their names on my calendar makes me miss them. It also makes me feel glad to be alive.

Maybe the best lesson we can learn from last year's calendar is this: Don't worry.

Why? Most of the things we worry about never happen, except in our imagination. If they don't warrant a place on our calendar, why do they take up so much space in our minds?

Don't worry; that's my New Year's resolution. Should be interesting. What's yours?

This is the last column I will write this year. Again, as always, I want to thank you for your readership and especially for your friendship, gifts that never cease to amaze me.

Here's wishing you and yours all the best in the coming year. I'll be back, Lord willing, with a shiny new calendar.


Sharon Randall is the author of "Birdbaths and Paper Cranes."
She can be reached at P.O. Box 931, Pacific Grove, CA 93950,
or at randallbay(at)

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