Surprise yourself. Make it better. And Happy New Year.
I used to dread New Year's Day.
In my childhood, it was boring. Dark. The depressing last day of holiday break. Christmas officially over.
In my young adulthood it was painful. Lazy in the worst possible way. The result of too much 'festivity' the night before. More often than not, my attempts at celebration fell far short of the mark.
But times change and with them, so do we. Over the past several years, New Year's Day has climbed the charts. Now, before the last bit of wrapping paper has been tossed in the trash on Christmas Day, I dream of a New Year. I begin brainstorming my resolutions in November. I crave the relative quiet and reflection of the final days of the year as a welcome reprieve after the bustle and constant energy of the rest of December. I wave goodbye to the passing year before 10pm and settle in to sleep before 11 on New Year's Eve. I used to wake at midnight just to mark the transition, but I don't even do that anymore. I sleep so that I can make my way here, to greet the morning and the year with fresh, rested eyes. Fresh words on a new page.
Of all of the ways I've celebrated the closing of one year and the opening of another in my life, this is by far my favorite.
The thing to do, these days, is note how fast time is passing. To express surprise that it is already spring, that summer vacation is just around the corner. We can't believe it's already the holiday season. And look at that, can you believe another year has come and gone? I feel that. Parenthood is a natural time accelerator. But I felt it even more in 2017. As though I had been so busy making the most of the year, in the best possible way, that when I looked up, the year was ending. And, if it wanted, I'd have let it hang around a bit longer.
In reviewing the resolutions I wrote this time last year, I found measurable progress. Not perfection or any sort of significant achievement. But steady, deliberate, intentional progress. The best kind.
After such years in the past, I've been tempted to embrace the blank page of a new January and start all over. New resolutions. New starts. New approaches. New Year must mean new everything. Out with the old, focus only on the new.
But this year, I'm bucking that tradition. Because, of course, the fresh start is rather arbitrary anyway. A new year, a new calendar, sure. But life continues. It doesn't stop and start again just because we need a new set of lines and boxes to mark time's passing. So this year I made my resolutions, but they are more or less continuations of last year's goals. Keep doing this. Do this more. Make this better.
My 'word' this year is Better. As in 'make it better.' Or 'keep going.' 'Forward progress.' 'Momentum.' I'm struggling to choose just one because they all mean a similar thing in a different way. Also, I love words so much, why limit myself to just one? Each of these will likely come to play at times throughout the year and I like having them all in my word bank as I start down a new, unmarked path whose possibility was imagined in the bravery of 2017, the struggle of 2016, and the work of every year that came before it.
Welcome 2018. Here's to more life, more progress, more ways to make it better.
"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some good books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful. And don't forget to make some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." ~Neil Gaiman