If you had to pick one word to sum up 2011 for you, what would it be?
It's quite a question.
It asks you to think about all that you experienced, felt, endured and witnessed, and then select a word that somehow captures those moments in time.
I posed this question to the women on "A Woman's View."
I was prompted to do so, in part, by the story of Merriam-Webster's having chosen a word of the year. It selected the word "pragmatic." Its selection was made based on a somewhat simpler, less selective criteria. "Pragmatic" was simply the word most often looked up on its online dictionary, especially in the weeks leading up to Congress' vote back in August to raise the nation's debt ceiling.
Isn't that interesting? Did we hear that word more often on the news during those weeks, or in conversation, and wanted to make sure we understood its meaning? Perhaps the thought of politicians doing something pragmatic was so foreign to us that we had to make sure we comprehended the word correctly.
"I like words that are worth a lot of points in Scrabble," said Crystal Young-Otterstrom of LDS Democrats. "I like playing the word 'zenith.' It's like pinnacle. It's the thing in all of us that we aspire to."
"All of us need to ask ourselves: What are the one or two things I can do to make a difference?" Young-Otterstrom continued. Not only a good word, but a good question going into the new year.
" 'Frustrated,' " Sharla Jessop, vice president of Smedley Financial, responded. "Not with my family, but with our government and economy and financial situation. Not with the market. We've had many years when the market has been flat, but the government can't compromise for the good of the people ... and that's frustrating."
I hear that.
"My word is 'disconcerting,' " said Heather Barney, communications director for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
"That's a good Scrabble word," Crystal jumped in.
"How so?" I pushed Barney.
"Everything just feels disconcerting this year," she replied.
I understand. I gave her a knowing look. We have had similar years, it seems.
If I had to select a word for 2011 — and there are many that come to mind, including "scream," "pain," "terror," "joy," "relinquish," "honesty," "fear" — the one I would have to settle on is "learn." I keep hearing that Alanis Morissette song in my head this year: "You grieve, you learn, you choke, you learn, you laugh, you learn, you choose, you learn."
And on and on.
I learned that I will never regret anything I do out of love, no matter how much pain it brings.
I learned that you truly do learn who your friends are when the chips are down, and I didn't have as many as I thought, but the ones who are still here are so extraordinary, I couldn't possibly want more.
I learned that family is worth the work it takes, and whatever shape it takes, can hold you.
I learned people are not who they seem to be. Sometimes they are so much more, and sometimes so much less, and in the end it doesn't matter.
I learned that the smile I give someone at the grocery store may be the very last one she sees.
I learned that courage and freedom feel like the same thing, and so do judgment and fear.
And I learned how much I enjoy writing again — this column, books, blogs, this rare and wonderful relationship between writer and reader. Thank you for sharing it with me.
I cherish it.
Happy New Year, dear reader. Here's to another year of learning.
Amanda Dickson co-hosts "Utah's Morning News with Grant and Amanda" on KSL Newsradio. Amanda also hosts the award-winning program "A Woman's View," heard Sunday mornings on KSL.