2016 – Day 2

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Day 2 of the New Year. The hangovers have lifted and thus begins the onslaught of New Year/New Me social media posts. The ephemeral week between Christmas and New Year’s with its odd work and school schedules gave us a break from real life and it’s so easy to see all the ways we could be better, our lives could be better and huge changes all seem possible and within reach. It may sound cynical, but I’m not that into the whole resolution mentality. I always find the whole New Year’s Eve thing with all its glitter and fakery to be empty and fairly depressing. By January 2, the glitter has been swept up and dumped in the nearest garbage can and reality is poised to return first thing Monday morning. And so we find the need to post our resolutions on social media in hopes that doing so will keep us accountable and/or in hopes that someone will take the journey with us.

I spent decades of my life wondering if I would ever be good enough, if I would ever measure up. I was in constant competition with a ghost who couldn’t be beat. And for what? It didn’t make me a better person. It made me sad, lonely, and angry. So I spent the last few years resolved not to get sucked into the whole resolution nonsense ever again. I’m done with the whole idea that if I only fix [fill in the blank] that life will somehow be better. But this past year or two, I’ve softened a bit. I know I’m not perfect and at the same time, I know I have tendency to expect perfection from myself. And maybe, just maybe, I need to find the middle ground of simply being human.

It seems kind of odd to me that we end the year immediately after celebrating the birth of Jesus. We took a truly new beginning and made it an ending. Then we took an artificial man-made new beginning that seems hellbent on glossing over and/or forgetting the past and put that at the head of our calendar. Jesus’ birth changed all of human history but it didn’t happen all at once. Think about that. Jesus came into human existence as an infant. He didn’t walk out of the stable a week later and start preaching parables. His first new year was spent learning how to talk, how to walk, how to feed himself, and he spent the rest of his life learning what it was to be fully human, all the while being fully divine. Why do we so easily toss aside that idea of infancy and childhood a week after celebrating his birth? Are we that afraid of the humanity of Jesus that we’d rather ignore it entirely in favor of his divinity?

The images of Jesus learning to coo and giggle, and to toddle along, catching himself on Mary’s skirts to keep from toppling over should be ones we consider. If God himself learned to be human one little developmental milestone at time, building each year on the lessons of the one which preceded it, why do we seem so determined to start over fresh and new ever time we buy a new calendar. Why do we constantly need to reinvent ourselves every single year?

I rang in 2016 but there will be no New Me. Just me. Learning to be me. Building on yesterday. And I’m more likely to need to ease up on myself than to hold myself accountable. And if I need someone to walk that journey with, I don’t need to look far. He’s already walking it with me.

Unglitzing New Year’s

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New Year’s Eve came around last night. Again. I have a serious love/hate thing going with New Year’s. I ricochet between, ‘Now what?’ [excited that good and new things are headed my way] and ‘Now what?!’ [fed up and overwhelmed already, what further crap could be coming]

I know the latter is not exactly inspiring, is it? But it’s honest.

I had planned to be celebrating with friends but my body had other plans. Between the cold, the coming snow, the stress of the busy season at work and my insane willfulness to just keep going full tilt during Christmas, the RA finally caught up and flattened me. I came home from work at 2:30 in the afternoon. I had to double up on the pain pills. Instead of heading out, I collapsed on the couch with my woobie blanket, feeling exhausted and rather betrayed. I spent the evening migrating between reading Rumi’s poetry and scrolling through Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr all while wearing compression gloves to help ease the pain in my hands. I’ve found that I read with different eyes on my down days. And from what I read on social media last night, I’m not the only out there who feels this kind of ‘oh crap now what’ trepidation as we head into 2014. But we gloss over it. We dress it up, take it out, buy it a few drinks and hope it will either change into blindingly brilliant optimism by the time the ball drops or at the very least, stop reminding us of all the things that could go catastrophically wrong in the coming year. Nobody that I’ve seen goes out on New Year’s Eve saying, ‘This year was tough and I’m afraid 2014 will just be more of the same.’ Not because we don’t feel it, but because it’s not acceptable to say it. New Year’s Eve is always the night of the happy, happy, joy, joy song and dance, insincere promises and staged optimism.

But the party is over now. The ball has dropped. Auld Lang Syne has been sung. The sun has risen on a new day, a new year. So the question still remains: Now what? The inflection and tone and the unspoken words carried behind it are up to you. As for me, it will be another quiet down day. But I managed to drag my sorry self down to the beach this morning and kneel in the sand with the sun of the new year on my face. When I stripped away all the glitzy, glossy, staged woohoo optimism, shoved away all the fears that are nagging at me, and took the time to really know the ground beneath me, I was left with one simple thing:

There are 365 dawns in a year. How many do I choose to ignore because I decide, for whatever reason, that I don’t like the way my day is headed even before it starts? I throw away a gift before it’s even unwrapped.

I could make a resolution to change but to be perfectly blunt, I suck at keeping resolutions. They’re too big for me to handle. I’ll stick to unwrapping today. I can thank God for the beauty I saw this morning…

… And for making sure no one saw me trying to stand back up after kneeling on frozen sand in 17 degree weather with knees that aren’t working right. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t graceful. But it was grace-filled and that feels like almost too much for me to accept.