It’s the time of year when I look back and see where I’ve been and wonder where I’m going.
On the shortest days of the year, I like to do a little recalibration. I take a look at what I had hoped to do and ways in which I want to change my thinking. Some years I have had major changes in the works – going back to school or starting a new career. Other years, my biggest ambition has been to finish off the last of the Christmas cookies before the year’s end in case they have an end-of-the-year expiration date and pose a danger to those with a less robust constitution.
This year is somewhere between the two.
Part of becoming older and a bit more at peace with myself is looking at the new year a little differently. Instead of a series of challenges to overcome and changes to enact, I look at the new year with a renewed sense of wonder. Instead of looking at new mountains I’d like to conquer, I like to spend a little time questioning the things I do every day without thinking, and how those things could be better. Some are profound. Most are not.
“I’m changing lipsticks,” I tell my friend, Cheri. She does not seem to register that this is a major life event.
“I only do this once every 10 years or so,” I add, so she understands the enormity of the choice.
“I had Thanksgiving dinner with a woman whose lipstick stayed on for the entire meal,” I explained. “I want to be like her.”
I got the sense Cheri did not think this end-of-year ambition was worthy of her attention. I decided not to tell her about my other goal: to polish off all the dangerously old Christmas cookies.
But I have a few other ideas for the new year as well.
I just got word that an old friend of mine has a ruthless form of cancer. We have not been in touch for years, but he was a good friend in high school, and the prognosis is not good. It is so hard for me to imagine the youthful, cheerful, impossibly energetic person he has always been becoming so ill and facing anything so dire. And yet he is. And so could we all.
And so, the biggest change I would like to make in the new year is to stop behaving as if I have all the time in the world. While I don’t know how much time I have (and I hope it is still considerable), none of us knows. I’d like to be a little gentler on myself in this new year. I’d like to treat myself like a person who is not going to live forever – simply because I am not.
Today would be a good day to write to my old friend and tell him I have nothing but wonderful memories of him. Today would be a good day to lay aside all my petty grievances against people who might think differently than I do or hold different beliefs. Today would be an excellent day to let go of any fears I have of being rejected or blamed or embarrassed.
On the shortest days of the year, it’s good to be reminded that my time is short as well. It’s a good time to do the things that matter and the things that bring me joy. It’s a perfect time to send out a little more kindness, eat a few more cookies and buy new lipstick.
Till next time,