On New Years…


Today is the first day of 2022. I know we all have hope that it will be a kinder year for us; the last two have been such jackasses.

People have been declaring their New Year’s Resolutions this week. They wrote them on paper, said them out loud in the mirror, and of course posted, “New year, new me!” on all the social media platforms. Things seem to be trending a bit differently this year. We are trying to be more enlightened. “I want to lose weight,” or “I’m starting a diet,” has been replaced with the more modern “I’m starting a healthy lifestyle journey.”

Even the word “resolution” has seemed to have fallen out of fashion in favor of words like “intention,” “commitment,” “discipline,” or “goals.” Goals, we are told by all the self-development gurus, are resolutions with a time line and a plan. I wonder if New Years Resolutions will soon go the way of real candles on Christmas Trees or fruitcake.

I’m also seeing more folks going rebel and resolving to have no resolutions. “New year, same sweet asshole I’ve always been” one meme on a friend’s Facebook stated.

Why do we wait until January 1 to do take steps to improve our lives? Is it to give permission to abuse ourselves from Thanksgiving until the dropping of the ball? “I’m gonna quit sugar on New Year’s Day, so give me another slice of cake, please.”

This New Year’s Day, my sister and I had planned to go on 1st Day Hike, which is an event sponsored by the parks department to raise awareness for our public hiking trails and nature walks. As a half marathon runner, a two mile walk is nothing to her. As a long distance walker, I can do two miles in my sleep. But, it was the symbolism, it was getting outside, it was doing something together to start the new year off right. We were to meet at the trail head at 10:00 a.m.

It was almost 70 degrees yesterday, but we knew it was supposed to get cold this afternoon. Apparently, Mother Nature was in a hurry and by 8 a.m. it was the warmest it would be all day; a balmy 30 degrees. Plus, according to the weather app, when we hit the trail it would be freezing rain and 20-30 mph wind gust. I texted her. “Are you still in?” She answered immediately, “I was just getting ready to ask you. What do you think?”

Now, all morning I had been thinking “don’t back out on your plans on the first day.” But, as I looked at her question it was clear what we should do. I thought it would be dumb to go just to prove we weren’t quitters. I told her I thought we needed to be flexible in our commitments and not be so strict with ourselves that we put ourselves in danger. She she agreed and said that if it weren’t for the rain she’d be “all in.” I, on the other hand, do not mind rain at all. It rained last night when I took my evening walk. For me, it’s the wind. Wind gusts of up to 30 mph would infuriate me. I told her as much, adding “it doesn’t make sense to start the New Year being pissed off.” She agreed, and I suggested we still get our points for the intention.

Upon hearing this logic, my beloved – who had no intention of joining us – blurted, “Oh, I get credit for hiking two miles as well.”

I had so many plans for today. In addition to the 1st Day Hike, I was going to do 45 minutes on the rowing machine, devote some time to my yoga practice, clean my office, write, and empty one of the boxes in the spare bedroom that we have not opened since the move six months ago. I was going to do some meal planning for the week with some new vegetarian recipes and crack open my New Year’s book (“The Boys,” a memoir by the Howard brothers). So far, I have managed to venture out for groceries, put a pot of 15 bean soup on to simmer, let my beloved show me the new toy he bought for our home construction project, sit down to write this, and think about all the other things I will not likely get done today.

But, the thing is, this isn’t a unique situation for me. Actually, I start every Saturday with intentions of getting things done, big extra things so I can go back to work on Monday feeling good about my weekend accomplishments. Then, then stuff happens. Maybe something breaks that requires a trip to the home repair store. Maybe I get a migraine and can’t do more than lay on the couch and moan. Maybe I make the mistake of checking work email and end up working a few hours to avoid showing up Monday feeling behind and stressed out (it doesn’t work like that, by the way). Unexpected things happen all the time, every single weekend. It is the Universe’s way of reminding me that there is a limit to what I control.

As I write this, outside my window the wind is blowing 20 miles per hour. The thermometer reads 18, but the wind chill is only 2. That isn’t “goal setting, getting things accomplished” weather; that is “hibernation” weather. That is “ask my sweetheart to start a fire while I pop some cornbread in the oven to pair with the beans” weather. That is “whatever small thing you accomplish is a win” weather. Today, New Year’s Day, is a Saturday; a typical Saturday. Stuff happened.

Happy New Year.

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