It’s that time of year again when we feel a certain strange mix of hope and despair, or is it just indigestion? We’re looking forward to what’s up ahead, just around that corner, over that hump, through that door, while running away from what’s behind us… is it still chasing after us?
It’s a time of contemplating new beginnings and how we can actively participate in them, make them happen and make them stick with us while we trip and fall over every twig and pebble along our path.
It’s a time of thinking over what has passed, of endings… or at least what (or perhaps who) we’d like to end once and for all.
“We need not stride resolutely towards catastrophe, merely because those are the marching orders.”
― Noam Chomsky, 9-11
Are you making any New Year’s resolutions this year? Did you make any last New Year?
If you are making resolutions, are they the same as last year’s resolutions, recycled because you’re being environmentally friendly?
Or are they entirely different because you’re different thanks to acing the challenge of last year’s resolutions?
If you aren’t making resolutions, is it because you are one of those people who have resolved to resolutely never make New Year’s resolutions?
Are you not making resolutions because they only set you up to be disappointed in yourself… you’ve been there, done that far too many times in previous years and know that you break resolutions so quickly that it ruins the rest of the year for you.
Or is it due to you being different already, you’re not like others, whatever they’re doing is definitely what you’re not going to do.
“Being at a loss to resolve these questions, I am resolved to leave them without any resolution.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
What would you like most to bring into your life and what would you like most to leave your life this coming year?
Do you want to set better boundaries for yourself, between you and others?
Are you seeking to become a better you?
What’s wrong with the you as you are?
Do you focus too much on what’s wrong rather than what’s right with you?
“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ”― Anaïs Nin
Are you seeking to redefine your relationship with food, drink, and other substances which go in and out of your body?
Do you aim to fatten up your wallet? But what if your wallet wants to lose pounds?
Maybe it’s your mind which needs more weight to it? To learn something new, something skillful, surprising, impressive?
Or is it your heart which wants… it longs to skip a beat, it’s so tired of the hum-hum-drum, it desires to thump-thump a bit harder and faster, break free, burst out from your chest and give itself to another?
“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
It’s a weird time of year, isn’t it. It’s a losing track of time time of year, while keeping an eye on the tick-tock.
I’m convinced it’s Tuesday today even though my computer clock says: “NO! For the umpteenth time, NO!“
But it’s not unusual for me to get muddled and be befuddled. That can happen at any time of year… all year round.
I used to really hate on myself for being such a scatterbrain airhead idiot without any savant. Sometimes I would scream silently at the universe for not giving me the kind of brain which everyone else seemed to have.
I could easily read and write backwards… but the words were supposed to go forwards.
I was very good at making mistakes, but you weren’t allowed to make those.
The night made me active, the sun made me sleepy.
I could see what was there but what wasn’t there was what was demanded of me that I see.
I wanted things to be simple, but complications didn’t care what I wanted.
“To practice the process of conflict resolution, we must completely abandon the goal of getting people to do what we want.”― Marshall B. Rosenberg
Everyone else knew who they were, why they were here, where here was, what they were supposed to be doing, how to do it, and they’d done it all during the time that I was still umming and erring, and erring so badly that I had to start all over again at the beginning.
It didn’t help that every decade brought a big switcheroo in societal values.
When I was a child you were supposed to be peace-loving and super chilled, tune in to the MJ, drop out of the norm, and turn on the go with the flow man.
But when I was a teen suddenly it was type A time, super ambitious, super greed on cocaine, don’t sleep, don’t blink, talk-talk, full on war of the worlds nuclear meltdown, baby!
Then as a young adult it became all about helping yourself, drugging the bad to feel the good, busy busy busy, flash that naked lunchbox, everything is wrong with you fix it with this or that or sex and cities full of busy busy busy, reality is what you make of it and fake it to make lots of money.
Later on it was all about the smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smize… flash that dental cash! Smile whiter, whiter, whiter… get rid of the yellow it’s too natural, for the best results apply chemicals, lasers. YAY LASERS! until it burns away all!
Let’s go big or go bigger and bigger and biggerbiggerbigger, blow that bubble up, it won’t POP pop pop!
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”
― G.K. Chesterton, A Chesterton calendar
Throughout it all…
I wished I could be like them, all those thems whom I wasn’t and could never be no matter how many gurus of life and shit told me they’d teach me how to do it… for the price of the platinum package designed to make you poor and rich at the same time. Buy their words, and say bye-bye to yourself!
But it just wasn’t to be. I wasn’t supposed to be anyone else other than me.
Someone had to be a huge mess to balance out all the neat and tidy people.
One time when someone asked me: “What do you do?”
I replied that I did nothing because someone had to do nothing to counteract the effect of everyone else doing something.
They didn’t know how to react to that – which was the whole point of my existence, to bring to others a moment of nothingness.
“She was as one who, in madness, was resolute to throw herself from a precipice, but to whom some remnant of sanity remained which forced her to seek those who would save her from herself.”
― Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?
I haven’t changed a bit, and yet I’ve changed a lot over the years. I’ve become more comfortable with being an uncomfortable.
Did it bother you that I didn’t finish that sentence, but it is finished… how much more finished does finished need to be for you to accept it as finished?
One of the things which my scrambled mind likes to do is play with words… words like playing, so they play back when you play with.
Take “resolution” – what does that word mean for you?
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
― Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road
Is it “re-solution” – what is it re-solving? What was wrong with the previous solution? Why is in need of a re-solve?
Did you think the world was flat and tried to find the edge of it, perhaps to jump off because you’ve had enough of life on planet Earth?
But you just kept going around in a circle, coming back to the same place you’d started.
That’s not how flat is supposed to work.
That’s how round works. Round rolls around and when you’re on a round it rolls you around.
Okay, it’s not perfectly round, why isn’t it perfect, screeching in brain, perfect perfect, it’s a weeble wobbling, but it won’t fall down and neither will you.
It’s so frustrating to go around and around in a circle, isn’t it.
You keep thinking you’ve found your way out, but no, that problem is the bleeding Mafia and it keeps pulling you back in.
“Resolve, and thou art free.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Flower-de-Luce, and the Masque of Pandora
Of course you could see the circle as a spiral, and therefore each time you go around in a cycle, it only seems like you’re come back around to the same place, but it’s not actually exactly the same place at all.
But which way is the spiral going? Are you going up or down? Which way is the better way to go?
Now we humans have for many a revolution of planet years of different lengths and numbers told ourselves and others until we’ve made a truth even though we’re still debating about it being a fact, that going down is akin to going to hell and going up is the stairway to heaven.
We’re sort of all semi-a-greed that heaven is all flappy feathery, soft clouds, sparkly diamonds and blingy gold, and you can wear white without fear of staining it with sweaty armpits and tomato sauce. While hell is full of all those people we don’t want to socialise with and want to kill because they’re so friggin’ annoying to be with.
So going up seems preferable to going down. And maybe going around and around without going up or going down is more soothing than the idea that you might be going down.
“The temptation towards resolution, towards wrapping up the package, seems to me a terrible trap. Why not be more honest with the moment? The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning. That’s genius.”― Sam Shepard
I used to make myself feel better when I found myself once again riding around on the same problem merry-go-round which I thought I’d finally resolved, by telling myself that it was a test of my solution and resolution to solve and resolve it.
I don’t always believe myself when I tell myself stuff because I’ve been known to lie to myself.
But I do think that there is a smidgen of truth to the idea that sometimes going around in a circle isn’t a sign of failure so much as a sign of needing to practice our solutions to life’s problems to see if they work, to see how they work when put into practice, and to see how you work when you have to do something over and over.
In some ways, I guess, solving life problems isn’t really about succeeding at solving life’s problems, it’s more about getting to know yourself over and over, coming home to yourself again and again after many detours going away and away again.
“Each man had only one genuine vocation – to find the way to himself.
His task was to discover his own destiny – not an arbitrary one – and to live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one’s own inwardness.”― Herman Hesse
This year I’m making a few resolutions.
Usually I don’t do that sort of thing because I know myself well enough to realise what will happen… and I’m bored of that game which I play with myself.
Self making the resolution: I’m going to do this and this.
Self listening to self making the resolution: This and this sounds boring, I’m not going to do this and this.
Self making the resolution: No, it’ll be fun, different, aren’t you bored of doing that and that, let’s do this and this instead, yeah!
Another self listening to self making the resolution and talking to that other self: Pfft!
Self making the resolution: I heard that Pfft, come on guys let’s do this and this. Just try it out for a while and see what happens. If you hate it we won’t keep doing this and this, but what if you love it…?
Deep in the inner pits self: You’re not the boss of me!
“I prefer to doubt everything. Such a disposition does not preclude a resolute character. On the contrary, as far as I am concerned, I always advance more boldly when I don’t know what is waiting me for me. After all, nothing worse than death can happen-and death you can’t escape!”
― Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time
Some people prefer to make their New Year’s resolutions on their birthday. It kind of makes a lot of sense since that’s their real New Year. And a birthday makes you briefly aware of age, mortality, and other really happy stuff.
My B’day falls or does it rise… shortly after the official New Year, but just before that other official New Year.
Which is why I’m a Monkey and not a Rooster. Maybe I’m a Monster (as in Monkey + Rooster = Monster… or I could be a Rookey).
I’m a master of falling from trees… crowing about myself not so much, I’ve tried and it sounds awful but it is funny, lots of monkey chuckles at the rookie rooster.
So I thought, why the hell not make a few resolutions – if I’m going to break something, which I definitely will as I’m exceedingly adept at breaking things, I might as well break those.
“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall!”
― Aleister Crowley Moonchild
But what if they don’t break?
Sounds like an awesome experiment doctor-not-doctor crazy and weird.
2018 was a game of two halves for me (who knew watching all of that football would actually serve a purpose), or maybe it was more like a play in three acts, or was it a dollar in change. That’s about as far as my math knowledge goes… which is probably for the best.
The tail end of it has been all about relaxing into scaring myself shitless, which has been interesting.
I have some odd fears. Luckily most people don’t notice them since I’m always odd to others.
But I notice them, mainly through the side effects they have on me. I’ve knocked a few out of my park recently and it’s changed how I behave in small but significant ways.
It’s kind of addictive to face fears… and tempting to keep at it.
“The temptation to indulge in it is one which I find almost as hard to resist as the temptation to read promiscuously, omnivorously and without purpose.
From time to time, it is true, I make a desperate resolution to mend my ways. I sketch out programmes of useful, serious reading; I try to turn my rambling voyages into systematic tours through the history of art and civilization. But without much success. After a little I relapse into my old bad ways. Deplorable weakness! I try to comfort myself with the hope that even my vices may be of some profit to me.”― Aldous Huxley
I think I was always a bit afraid to make meaningful resolutions in the past… because they confirmed to me what a useless failure I was at life, at being human, at all the whatevers which everyone else seemed to succeed in, be good at, and so on and so forth… that story has found its natural ending.
Time for me to accept that it’s finished.
Time for me to embrace a different story.
Which is still a story that is part of my story.
And so time for me to resolve to make some New Year’s resolutions.
I’ve been practicing these ones throughout the past year, and have increased my tolerance for doing what not all of me wants to do.
“But the greatest battle of all is with yourself—your weaknesses, your emotions, your lack of resolution in seeing things through to the end. You must declare unceasing war on yourself.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War
Eff what Robert Greene says in that quote above, that’s some totally narcissistic bs!
I’m not going to force it upon myself.
The days of wars waged against me by myself are kind of done… trying a subtler tactic now, making friends with myself, loving the mess, and working with myself to bring peace and harmony to the world within.
We haven’t quite reached Borg level of interconnected community hivedom, and we probably never will because some of the arguments are good for us, if we were all lovey-dovey with each other we’d think we were a corpse.
Which will happen one day… or so they say.
I was going to end this post on something deep but I’ve forgotten what it was…
Anyway, whatever you do, whether you’re a New Year’s resolutionary or not, enjoy yourself as you do you!
I’m linking this post to Fandango’s #FOWC word prompt – Temptation – because it goes well with New Year’s resolutions.