I can’t remember where I got the idea now, but it was almost certainly from a Tumblr post with eighty thousand reblogs or something. I didn’t save the link.
The project was to write down everything good that happened to you over the course of the year on small slips of paper. You put them in a jar, watch the jar fill up as the months pass, and then open the jar and read everything back on the 31st of December.
I really like these kinds of incremental, year-long projects. In 2013 I did the one where you take a photo every day (and made it as far as July!). I wanted to do this one, but the way the last few years have gone for me, I knew there was a chance that my results at the end of the year might be disappointing.
So, I did the clever thing, and used a really small jar.
(I’m not sure what else you’d keep in a jar that size apart from folded up post-it notes Pickled quail’s eggs maybe?)
It’s like how eating from a smaller plate makes it look like you’ve got more food on it. I can truthfully say that I filled my jar up! I could have squeezed some more in there, but I think I made a respectable showing, especially since the jar was packed away with all the rest of my things between April and June. It’s also worth pointing out that I didn’t write down every single that made me happy, like “today the froyo place had marshmallow creme!”, even though marshmallow creme is very important to me. I saved the jar for the things that were extraordinarily nice. Some of them are more private than others, but here are the highlights.
4 January – I saw Rachel today for the first time in ages and met her daughter Hannah for the first time.
4 February – My productivity system is working. I read and write and do things every day.
March 17 – Saw the Welcome to Night Vale live show in Durham.
30 August – My essay was accepted for publication by The Toast.
13 September – 15,000 words on the new novel in four days.
17 September – Rachel came to stay for the weekend . We drove new places, had good food and alcohol, and good conversations.
31 October – Discussed Measure for Measure with a group of cool, smart people.
14 November – My roommate Nitah invited me to be a surprise witness at her wedding.
8 December – Sold another essay to The Toast, will appear in March.
15 December – Found a home for the support group I started.
17 December – Got two bags full of Christmas presents from an anonymous family who “adopted” me through my therapy clinic.
I regret that I didn’t make a point of digging the jar out and keeping up with it while I was moving place to place over the spring and summer. On the one hand, that was definitely the low point of the year, but I’m sure nice things must have happened to me. That’s the point of the jar–to preserve the memories of the small things you’ll forget about otherwise.
I did take some pictures while I was traveling, though. This one is the hotel room where I lived in Richmond, Virginia for two weeks.
Living there was awfully depressing, but the photograph makes me feel like there was something interesting about it, maybe in a mid-century male novelist travelogue sort of way.
I plan to start the jar over tomorrow. I actually got a bunch of glass jars for Christmas; maybe this time I’ll be optimistic and go for a bigger one.
Happy New Year’s to everyone, and may your projects yield fruit.