Aren’t we all in love with the idea of a fresh start?
We want positive change, different circumstances, a little luck, and a clear path forward to happiness. We think that drastic measures will do the trick, so we list and line up our goals as the new year approaches. We use ink because we are committed this time, right? Do we want to lose weight? Of course we do! 2020 will be the year we finally do it! Are we ready to sleep enough, complain less, travel more, and finally make that big career change? Yes, we are ready!
This year, it’ll all come together. We’ve got this.
In talking to others, I know I’m not alone when I say 2019 was an extra ghastly year. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for so many reasons. The toxic energy of 2019 was stifling, crippling, and migraine inducing. It left my head spinning, and I am so over it. Aren’t you?
I come from a long line of list makers, so I made three: Priorities, Resolutions, and What I Learned.
Here it goes…
1. Vote that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person out of office.
The end. That’s it. The only thing that really matters this year is voting for a new president. A person who leads via kindness, a person who strives to do and say the right thing. I want a humanitarian peace warrior with charisma and credentials.
1. Stop the dieting madness.
2. Stop complaining about problems that aren’t problems.
3. Stop wasting time.
4. Stop eating crap and expecting to feel good.
5. Stop throwing pity parties for myself.
What I Learned:
1. Perfection is a fairy tale.
2. I don’t have everything figured out, and I never will.
3. The journey matters more than the accomplishments.
I keep a chalkboard downstairs in what I like to call my “gym.” It’s a tiny room with some exercise CDs and a yoga mat. Five years ago, I started keeping track of things like weight loss and the races I ran. I’ve kept it as a reminder to keep doing the difficult things that ultimately make me happy and whole. I’ve kept it as a symbol of what I can do when I really put my mind to it.
Yesterday, I erased my past. Figuratively and literally. I took a wet cloth and erased it clean because beginning again requires beginning…again.
I thought I had it all figured out—the formula for personal happiness. I talked about it, I wrote about it, I extolled infinite wisdom born from trenches and hard times. I spit oodles of truth, and kept it real. I believed in my heart that I was finally happy because I knew what I had to do in order to be happy. I realize now that I was a “know it all.” I walked around like a shallow fool who drank too much motivation nectar. I thought I had the human happiness puzzle solved. I posted inspirational quotes like nobody’s business. I posted my fair share of selfies “doing the work” to stay healthy. And I received a lot of attention for it.
In 2019, I struggled to regain the feeling I had when I first got fit and took control of my life. The positive vibes about my body, mind, and state of peace were infrequent visitors at best. What I forgot to do most days was care about myself enough to achieve it. My imperfect humanness crept back in, and the bad habits I had painstakingly unraveled coiled right back up. Good habits vanish when we forget to practice.
Getting the good feelings back requires a new voyage, and a new year is the perfect time to say goodbye to stagnancy. It means erasing a past that includes accomplishments, because those days are over and there are new days ahead. There are new things to figure out.
This is the human experience, after all, and I am not unaffected by despondency. I am not an armored truck, barreling through life, deflecting my depression or my feelings of inadequacy. I am not exempt from the jealousy I feel over friends who look like they have it all. I am not immune to wanting to go back in time, to the past, when I felt like I “had it together.” I envy those who seemingly don’t worry about their weight or their relationships, but I must remember that appearances mean nothing and I am not alone. Most people agree that being human ain’t no joy ride and there are troubles waiting around every corner. Challenges will persistently present themselves, even after we feel like we “have it all figured out,” and most of those challenges? Well, they look, sound, smell, taste, and feel the same.
The defining thing 2019 taught me is that chasing the dream of having everything figured out is like chasing a train. Once off and comfortably eating donuts on the platform, hopping back on is tricky. To get back on I’ll have to want it. I’ll have to literally and figuratively “run for it,” and be uncomfortable for a while. What we learn when we step off the train is that the damn train keeps moving, with or without us.
2019 also taught me that I can’t capture time. I can’t go back. If I want a new beginning, if I want something similar to what I had a few years ago, I’ll have to start with a blank chalkboard. The only thing worth noting about our past is what we’ve learned along the way, because it’s the journey itself, not the accomplishments that ultimately make us happy.
Stops for donuts on the platform need not be final. The train keeps moving, that’s true, but we can certainly hop back on when we’re ready to commit to a different track.
Letting go of the past allows us to start fresh in the new year. I’ve erased my board. I’ve said goodbye to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. I’m starting over, and I won’t be tracing the same lines.
I’ve also had enough donuts.
Cheers, peace, and less plastic in 2020!