“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”– Closing Time by Semisonic
It’s not a New Year, but it is a time for new beginnings, resolutions (if you’re into that sort of thing) and a blank page in a yet unwritten book (every single day is a time for new beginnings, of course). I am wary of making resolutions due to the fact that they are usually slightly to highly unrealistic.
If I were to make a resolution that I wouldn’t go all Hulk-like in traffic, but had done nothing to change my frame of mind or manage my emotions and expectations, then I’m fairly certain my effort would be met with failure, or at least the inability to magically change my entire response to traffic from maniacal on Monday to angelic the very next day. I’m not saying it’s impossible, only highly improbable without first making some sort of change.
When you think about New Year Resolutions, it’s the same thing; just a different day of the week, 24 hours later than the day before. The magic doesn’t happen by turning the calendar pages; it happens with small changes and a mindfulness that wasn’t present prior. It’s being honest with yourself and hearing the observations of others with an open mind, not making excuses or explaining away their point of view.
If my resolution is to quit drinking alcohol but I have a fully stocked bar in my living room, a fridge in the kitchen full of wine and a fridge in the garage full of beer, chances are slim to none that I will be successful in my (weak, pathetic, half-assed) attempt at becoming sober.
If I haven’t dug deep to find out the “why” behind the drinking then my resolution is dependent upon my mood; if my mood goes dark and dangerous and I haven’t developed any healthy coping skills, then guess what? Chug-a-lug until there’s no more lug to chug.
Another trap I fall into with resolutions is that I make them based on what I should do, not what I really want to do. Making a resolution to lose weight so that the hot guy I have a huge crush on will notice (and hopefully fall in love with) me, being one timeless example.
Making a resolution to start attending mass on Sunday again because my parents (God rest their souls) would be pleased, as they look down upon me from behind Heaven’s pearly gates. Or even better – so I can get into God’s good Grace and therefore avoid the fiery alternative.
These are all great resolutions, as great as resolutions can be, but they are doomed to be unsuccessful if I haven’t invested in them long before Easter, Christmas or New Years Eve.
I prefer to set intentions rather than resolutions; they are much more forgiving, loosely defined and honestly, they, give me an out if things don’t go according to plan.
1. a thing intended; an aim or plan. “she was full of good intentions” ·
2. the healing process of a wound.
I love the second definition because the majority of my intentions do involve healing and recovering from wounds, be they physical or emotional. My intention is to forgive those who have wounded me, but also to forgive myself for the wounds I have inflicted on others. My intention is to accept my faults and failures and love myself unconditionally, which will be my intention for every New Year until my Last Year.
I feel the danger in resolutions is that they lead us into false expectations; by changing my physical appearance, I will find love.
By doing things for others, I will be accepted and loved. It’s not the resolution so much as it is the expected outcome. Realistically, losing weight will not guarantee that the hot guy falls in love with me, especially if he’s gay, married or simply not interested.
Not drinking alcohol is a great resolution but there is so much more involved than just not raising that glass to my lips. Forgiving others is a great idea, but that means letting go of old hurts and grudges. If they have been your constant companion for years and help you feel righteous in your belief that they are in the wrong, then it will take much more effort than simply thinking you forgive them. One must take personal responsibility for their role in whatever transpired and own it.
My dad used to say “It’s not the making of a mistake that should embarrass a person, so much as their failure to benefit from it” and I value that statement so much more now that I am grown and the arrogance of my youth has been worn away by the waves of life and lessons learned over the decades. The façade is gone, the false bravado only a shadow of a memory and in the end, only truth remains.
Learning from mistakes so that we don’t make the same ones over and over is a better plan of action than making a resolution that is unrealistic and sets us up for failure.
So Happy Not New Year to one and all! May this time in your life bring you comfort when you’re distressed, good company when you’re lonely, a hand to hold when you’re frightened and a safe harbor during Life’s many storms. May you find the courage to face your fears, the strength to slay your beasts of burden and faith enough to believe that there is more to Life than just crossing days off the calendar and making unrealistic resolutions.
Peace and love to you all!