I started composing this musing in my head during my morning meditation. That tells you something about how the meditating goes.
A regular meditation practice is a habit I am forever (well for a year or two anyway) trying to cultivate so I suppose it is fitting that my meditation musings were about the debacle of New Year’s Resolutions. I like to say that a long time ago I made the resolution to never make another New Year’s Resolution and it’s the only one I’ve ever kept. Ba ba boom.
But that’s not entirely true. It’s hard not to think of the new year as a new start. A chance to do things differently and make big, bold changes. Toss a few things out of the bucket list. The problem is we make resolutions with this idea that we’re wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch (that would be me and the mouse in my pocket). “I’m going to get fit and eat healthy this year”. Good, good. But I can’t erase the 46 years of bad (and not so bad) habits that came before. In my favor – I have developed and kept rigorous fitness routines before, for years at a time even, so I know I can do it even if those routines may not be the same ones of two decades ago. (Or maybe they should be and I’m using middle-agedness as an excuse to be lazy). On the other hand, I can’t erase 46 years of chocolate – copious amounts of chocolate – and the ongoing and never ending wish for chocolate and hours of lazing on the couch with a good book, the boy cats, the girl dog, and more chocolate. (And why should I? I have a towel that says “I was told I should quit eating chocolate, but I’m not a quitter”.)
There’s something about this time of year though. The familiar lure of the week between Christmas and New Years. A pause in the usual routine and anticipation and possibilities of the year ahead.
Except it’s a lie really. My to do list is pretty much exactly the same as it was before Christmas with some variations on a theme. I’ll still be teaching, albeit a different class. I’ll still be working on a big grant project, albeit more intensely. I won’t be on a search committee (thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou) but there will be other of those types of obligations to take its place. I’ll still be nudging doctoral students along and, of course, writing, writing, and more writing.
Given that my context won’t change (and I don’t want it to) why would I expect big brand new things in the year ahead? And if I commit to big brand new things in a big vocal way and then I fail, as I inevitably will, how sucky will that be?
Wow, I had no idea I woke up on the pessimistic side of the bed this morning, but as the words flop onto the page it goes a long way to explaining the tightness I’ve been carrying around in my chest the last week or two. I was attributing it to still feeling a bit punky from the cold I got before Christmas, but I think I am actually suffering from resolutionus resistancia, or resistance to the societal pressure to be optimistic and set big goals for the year ahead (look it up).
Oh, I’ll ring in the New Year and take a moment or two to reflect on the ups and downs of 2015 and the possibilities of 2016, but no resolutions for me. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, one little itty bitty baby step at a time, in my perfectly clean and organized house, 30 pounds lighter with nothing but solid muscle on my bones, while eating my delicious home-cooked meals night after night after night.
Happy New Year everyone.