I know I haven't been around. I just did Christmas for four kids! And then went out of town! What do you people want from me? Anyway, that was like, last year. Get over it already.
You may not know this about me, but I love this time of year. The time of newness. I love the idea of a fresh start and of a chance to do things differently, and better, in a new year. Last year in January I kept driving past a homeless mission with a sign that said "New year, same old you," and every single time I had to fight the urge to pull over and go inside and yell at someone for being so cynical. "Same old you"? What kind of attitude is that?
You may think it's silly to believe that anything will be different just because we get new calendars, but it really isn't about the date. January first may not be inherently different from any other day, but then, no day is inherently anything, is it? Our days mean what we make them mean. Change can be hard even for those who love it, as I do. What's wrong with taking the least opportunity to get motivated and try to do a little better than we have been? I know that resolutions often peter out, but if they last a little while, and we get a little bit done, isn't that a good thing? I didn't stay consistent with my 2007 resolution to eat less, exercise, and lose weight, but I did see the year out weighing 22 pounds less than I did when it started, and a lot of that was pure New Year's motivation.
I didn't really come here to talk about the little resolutions like losing weight and being more productive at work, though. You know me; I'm all about what lies beneath. And New Year's thinking is no exception. So here it is...
I would not say that I'm a defensive person, and in fact I strive not to be. I pride myself on a willingness to apologize when I need to and on the ability to be honest about my own faults, both with myself and with other people. But still, I protect myself a lot in other ways. Ways that are harder for me to talk about. And I don't want to do that. I want to trust people even though I know that people usually shouldn't be trusted. I want to allow myself to be vulnerable because I know that by shielding myself from emotional injury, I also put layers of numbness between myself and joy. I'm capable of feeling deeply, but I'm equally capable of not feeling much at all. And I'm choosing not to choose that now.
I will declare vehemently to whoever will listen that I don't ever want to make choices about my life based on fear, and in many areas of my life, I think I hold to that. But in less conscious ways, I think I've become afraid of not staying on an even emotional keel, and that fear does affect my life in subtle ways. Like so many things that become clear to me as I get older, I'm starting to see that what was once a positive and stabilizing instinct has become a hindrance and an unnecessary crutch, and I need to let go of it. So that's my Big Goal for this fresh, new year. To open myself to emotional experience. To live and love fearlessly, without trying to think ahead thirty-seven steps to the inevitable end and where that end will find me. I know that all these things pass away. We all know that. Let me feel them while they're here.