On finishing what you've started

I started thinking about resolutions early in December, and I finally settled on something specific just in time for the New Year. I knew I wanted to dig deeper and put down roots. I wanted to focus on paying attention and following things through. I had a sense of what my intentions would be for 2013, but I knew I needed something a little more tangible to measure my progress and keep myself on track. Our little dining area is crammed with shelves and shelves of books, a combination of the two libraries and reading histories we brought into our relationship. Over the course of a meal, it’s not unlikely that we’ll pull out one or two, a bilingual dictionary or a novel or a theoretical tome, and mull over its past or flip to a familiar passage. I love our little library, but I’m always aware that it’s laced with a funny little secret.

The truth is, there aren’t so many books on those shelves that I’ve actually finished. Sure, I’ve read zillions and zillions of pages, if you consider them all together, but finishing one whole book is another thing entirely. If you pull out any of the books that are my own, you’re likely to find a bookmark stuck halfway through, or a worn first few chapters followed by crisp, untouched pages through the end. In some cases, I even stopped just a few pages before the end.

It’s not that didn’t love those unfinished books—in fact, I’ve claimed many of them as my favorites. Mostly I’ve just been drowning in reading assignments for the past few years and never felt like I could give my full attention to one whole book before sailing into the next. And maybe, in some cases, I liked those books so much that I didn’t want them to end.

Whatever the reasons may be, those unfinished pages are calling to me, especially now that I’ve got a little more time to attend to them lovingly, rather than whizzing through their pages in a race to some imaginary finish line. I think I set each book aside with a pang of guilt, but also with a glimmer of hope that I’d come back to it sometime in the future and finally do it justice.

A change in my reading habits is just one small example of the attention and depth I hope to cultivate this year, but I think it’s a good place to start. I’ve left plenty of loose ends dangling over the past few years, and I think it’ll feel just right to return to those characters and stories and ideas, one by one, and find out how things turned out.