My new year almost always begins on January 2nd. How about you? Sure, back in the throes of the gluttony that is December (a happy and satisfying gluttony, to be sure), January 1st is a beacon out there in the future guiding us to the promise of better decision making and healthy life habits. But let’s be honest here: what were you really doing in the morning on January 1st? (If you tell me you went for an early morning run you can just get out right now–this blog is not for you).
On January 1st I slept in and had breakfast around noon. By the time I got dressed the sun was starting its descent. The rest of the day night was spent organizing papers on my desk into coulda, woulda, shoulda, and can’t avoid any longer piles. I made the sacrifice and forced myself to eat all the remaining sugar laden and white flour items in the house so the new healthy eating plan could officially go into effect without temptation. I ended the first-day-of-the-rest-of-my-life binge watching must see TV because unresolved television drama is obviously a major burden to one’s revitalization plans.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say I don’t think I was alone.
Most people welcome January 1st head on…at midnight…and wake up the next day with only a vague idea about what they’d like their future to be. The arbitrary turn of the calendar does not bestow on us the power to suddenly defeat our demons and old, well-honed habits. Whatever kind of New Year’s Eve partying we do–Seacrest style, champagne style, night club style, movie with the kids style–there is not magical transformation of mind waiting for us on the other side.
January 1st is our collective safe space for emotional gut checking. It’s a day of recuperation. It’s a day of transition. It’s the day we ERASE the slate as before we start with a clean one.
It’s a day not unlike many we have throughout the year.
I get the same renewal of purpose when spring begins.
I get the same list making, task doing joy when a new school year approaches.
I get the same what will I do with my life NOW thoughts on my birthday.
People like new starts and January 1st is just one of the many our calendar gifts us.
But the real work doesn’t start until the day after, in this case, January 2nd (which is why I’m writing and posting something today instead of yesterday). The trick is maintaining motivation and conviction between days of re-renewal. Sometimes success comes easy. Other times you’ll find me on a Sunday night gorging on Peanut M&Ms and Redvines while I pin all my hopes on the gift that is the surprising rejuvenation of a Monday morning (Happy New Week?).
Life isn’t all that hard or complicated. It just is. The arbitrary decision to count the number of times the earth rotates on its axle or circles around the sun as signs that we’ve come to some sort of crossroads is comforting. We like goalposts and way stations, even when they are theoretical. We like to believe the reset button is always available to us. It’s the lie we’ve all agreed to pretend is true.
Start 2016 by thanking Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII for giving us a global yearly way station, but remember the reality is you can start a new you any time you’d like. So maybe you can forgo the pomp and circumstance of resolutions and just live life one day at a time.
That’s what I hope to do.
I’ll start on Monday.