The first day back to work after the holidays, I took a peek at my calendar for the next few weeks. And the little boxes that represent each day had not stayed empty. It appears that my calendar didn’t get the memo that it is a new year, a blank canvas, a fresh start.
There are still lots of commitments on the calendar—things I’ve agreed to do. There are lots of obligations—things I’m legally or morally required to do. There are also lots of opportunities—things that I am now able to do.
Some of them are personal, like birthdays or anniversaries. Many are professional, like meetings and appointments. I like to think that all of them are important.
They are all identified by little cryptic notes that generally include a date, time, name, and place to help me organize my world. They exist on a timeline that defines a chronological landscape. They provide an outline of how I interact and am a part of the world around me.
They also remind me of the family, groups, and communities that I’m a part of—and of the things that my “tribe” values and views as important. There are lots of traditions and milestones encoded into the dates on my calendar that are indicators of what and who I love, what events and moments are most important, and the organizations and causes I care about.
But there is one category that is not so easily categorized: my unscheduled, unprogrammed, yet to be committed, no obligations, wide-open time. In some ways, this is the best category of all—the one where nothing is written yet. And it lies untouched. Ready to discover.
Two of the most exciting words in the English language are, “I’m open.” And what happens after that—well, almost anything!
I welcome those empty boxes. Sometimes because I get to leave them empty. Sometimes because they will become the moments and places in which I make new friends, encounter new ideas, and take on fresh challenges. Into some of those spaces will flow the times of my life—the days I will always remember.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, KJV). In this new season of a new year, may we also be mindful of the unknown purposes, the undiscovered joys, and the grand potential of being able to simply say, “I’m open.”