Chew your way into a new world.
Note: I'm totally aware that this is the third week in a row that I've been late, but I promise I'll be back on schedule next week!
Last week, I ended with a sort of incomplete thought about treating the new year as a practice rather than as something that happens. Time, of course, and especially the calendar, is man-made and dependent on convention. There's nothing inherent to midnight on December 31 that makes it magical or even all that special. It's not a lunar or astral holiday; not even related to one, really. It's not global, or even universal in individual countries. The "new year" is as imaginary as the tooth fairy. For me, it doesn't even really start until all the Christmas stuff is put away and we get back to a normal routine.
Yet every year we're showered in promises on both sides: promises of new lives, promises of new selves, of new worlds, of a new slate of things we can make and own and grow. New Year, New You! screams at us from blogs and billboards and bus shelters. We drown ourselves in it.
At the same time, we have a deep cultural understanding that most of these promises will not be fulfilled. By February, the diets crash out, the gym's empty banks of treadmills are paid for by absent members, and things go back to the way they were before, more or less, give or take an inch.
There are whole industries that rely on this wish-quit cycle, and whole secondary industries that rely on helping you create better wishes, year after year. We use SMART goals and detailed plans and benchmark trackers, training programs and day planners. We buy journals and fancy pens and make lists.
None of these things are what I mean by using the new year as a practice. Unlike what feels like most of the planet, I don't want to enter a new year with plans to reinvent myself. Sure, I use it as a marking point for some goals sometimes, but I find it troubling how much of the "goal" conversation is predicated on "something's wrong with you right now."
Here's what I can tell you, for certain: you sometimes make somebody sad. Sometimes you're not as polite as you could be to the delivery guy. Sometimes you do not take care of people who depend on you for care. There's probably someone out there that you've hurt so badly along the way that they cannot forgive you. They are allowed to not forgive you.
But I can also tell you for certain: you deserve care. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to the people you work for to treat you fairly. You deserve to take up the space you require to live. You deserve those things just as you are, without changing a darn thing.
When I talk about the new year as a practice, I mean: forgive yourself so that you can move forward. Step out of the quagmire and put your feet on solid ground. Take a moment to learn what you need and what you can give to the world. Thank yourself for what you've given but haven't yet been thanked for. Forgive the people you can, and give yourself permission to draw a line between forgiveness and reconciliation. If you can bear it, apologize to the people you've hurt and give them the space to forgive or reconcile or neither as their needs require.
What you do and what you say are who you are. When you're making goals--whatever kind you make--during your own season of change, take a moment to think about who you want to be, and not just what you ought to do. Try brave. Try kind. Try enthusiastic. Do not shrink yourself, or try to start from scratch. Instead, find the tiny budding place in your heart that's ready to grow, and nourish it.
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