Thursday, January 1, 2015
Happy New Year, world. I promise it's a good one. Or, at least, we'll find out.
As one year closes and another begins I am full of separated thoughts. First off, I dropped the ball with those Thanksgiving posts. Sorry about that? We had an odd Thanksgiving which involved someone else's car and then driving back home in the middle of the night to avoid a snowstorm. Second, I am overwhelmed with odd reflections on 2014 and also odd reflections on this whole "holiday season" in general.
Did you know it's been 15 years since Y2K? Fifteen years since that period when we stored jugs of water and canned goods in basements, and people built fallout shelters "just in case." I don't recall many details from Y2K--I was in 5th grade, after all. I remember the Christmas card I got from Ms. Trudeau (my favorite teacher, ever) and the knowledge that "Y2K" might make all the electricity go out in the entire world. Otherwise, I was happily oblivious. I wasn't afraid of the mysterious Y2K and I probably went about my Christmas break as usual by opening presents and playing outside and making some childish resolutions in January.
Ah, resolutions. As children we are taught that the New Year is a time to make these so-called resolutions, to make an alteration in the way we live. This concept is usually pushed more by teachers than parents, because those New Year resolution art projects are just so gosh darn cute. We stop learning about it around the time we become irritable/irritating teenagers. However, for at least a few years during elementary school we are persuaded to believe that every January we should find something to change about ourselves.
Yeah. That's kind of messed up.
It's not messed up because children are perfect--they are human, and therefore imperfect. It's not messed up because teachers shouldn't have the right to offer kids time for self-correction and reflection--they do, in fact, have that right, in many aspects. It's messed up because it's arbitrary, and leads us to the assumption that January 1st is prime time for changing your life, instead of changing it during some more appropriate moment.
From a teacher's perspective, it's also messed up because there is no follow-through. We give the kids this assignment, the "pick something that's wrong with you and decide to make it better" project, and maybe we talk about it for a few days. But for the remainder of the school year and into the next, no one dares mention a resolution.
And that is how kids are lead to say, "I'm going to do all of my homework before the weekend!" (not knowing that in a few years your homework will reach its deadly claws into your precious weekend.) They say, "I'll be nice to my sister." (Such a specific, reachable goal.) New Years resolutions done wrong (which is most of the time) teach kids to be idealistic and then forget their ideals, because, hey, no one is going to ask you about this for another year.
I'm not saying this because resolutions are bad. They're not! But they can be so much more than some blithe statement you make each January. Even if it's not a blithe statement--even if it's a statement you really mean--it's unlikely you'll remember it past March. People take themselves far too seriously when they make these resolutions but some reason it's inconsequential to give up the decision you made under such strain. If you make a resolution, don't take yourself too seriously, and try to be aware when you give up.
One last thought before I go. Anybody ever think about how a resolution usually signifies the end of something, and we tend to make resolutions at the beginning of the year? It's almost like saying, "Let's get started so we can get finished!" I have literally never been aware of this before.
So, my resolutions this year, which I will not take too seriously, and will probably forget half of by the end of March, are the following:
-Read more books
-Play less Tetris
-Drink more coffee
-Clean out my inbox more often (532 unread e-mails and counting...)
-Be more patient
-Smile at people
-Get more sleep at night (so, less daytime napping)
-Make more art
-Write more poems
-Sing (loudly, and often)
-Cuddle with my dog
-Love my husband (even when he buys me a box of chocolates and eats the only piece left in the box that I wanted to eat because I was saving the best for last.)
In any case, here's a toast to the old year and the new one. This makes for an incredible life.