I have a fascination with New Years, which is one of the reasons why I mention it in posts during random months of the year. What I love about it most is the opportunity to both look back and look forward, as dichotomous or interdependent as the two might seems. As a nostalgic dreamer, I love sitting in coffee shops in the middle of the city, or out in open fields lying on my back, reflecting on the year, letting pleasurable memories sink even deeper into my heart and brain. I love asking questions and turning over leafs.
What went well this year? What am I doing that is limiting myself or holding me back?
In a similar vein, I love the focus on dreaming, on making things better, on planning new adventures that will land on blank journal pages, until they find their way onto freshly marked calendars and then still photographs.
What will I do differently this year? What steps will I take to push myself and enjoy life even more?
New Years is an opportunity to both look back, be present, and look ahead. Looking back on favorite memories, being present underneath a dark sky of fireworks at 12:01 AM with strangers you somehow feel connected to, and musing about what new beauties your eyes will see in the year to come.
The only problem, for me, sometimes, is the trap of expectation and longing. When I had a challenging 2011, I was confident 2012 would be better because, quite frankly, 2011 couldn’t have gotten much worse. When I had a fulfilling, meaningful 2012, I secretly hoped I’d be able to sustain the momentum, the progress, the aliveness. Is this was couples feel after they come down from their honeymoon stage? I wouldn’t be surprised. What if we go backwards? You begin to think.
What if 2013 was worse? Even on paper, 2013 looked strange. 2012 was a nice, even number, complete with leap day and the Olympics. How do you compete with that?
Maybe that’s the error in thinking; a longing for reassurance that it will be a great year. That nothing too hard or sad will happen. That all of our loved ones will live together, just one more year even, no deaths, just health. The pressure to constantly top each year can be exhausting. The expectation that this year has to be better than the last can breed disappointment or feelings of failure if our goals and dreams don’t come into fruition by December 31st. I forget, sometimes, that making life changes and seeing significant growth take time. Even more than a year, often. It can’t happen all at once, when we want it. When we sign up for life to the full, we commit to it for the long haul, not a year that will fly by all too quickly.
The calendar is in front of me. My notebook, a softly lit cafe, and the smell of coffee and freshness lingers in the air. 2014. A time to loosen my grip on expectation, reassurance, and earnest yearning that demands, more! more! more, louder and louder. I open up my hands and glance Heavenward. My body is light and free, as if in its natural state when I am not busy controlling my life with my heavy fingerprints instead of God’s soft brush strokes. I still have choice, power, and the ability to control my attitude and response; no, I am not a string puppet precariously thinking God will make my every movement, as though we’re completely helpless and powerless on our own. No. Instead we’ve been promised a spirit of power and love. That things will work together for good. Sometimes I just forget the story. Forget how it all ends because all I can see is my own myopia.
I’m trading in expectation and longing for 2014. At the top of my goals list for the year, I begin to scribble my dreams in bright colours, but do so with a clause. Let go of expectation. Let go of perfection. And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of seriousness to. You don’t have time for that. Placidly look for these goals to guide, not control your year.
And so, in just a short day, it will begin.