I gave up making resolutions for the new year a long time ago. I cannot, in fact, recall the exact year when I decided that placing lofty expectations on myself for the year to come was a good way to start it off….more like a recipe for disaster…setting myself up to fail, and to spend the entire year regretting why I was not ‘good enough’ or ‘strong enough’ to accomplish all the goals I set for myself.
One of my favorite quotes about the coming of the new year comes from Edith Lovejoy-Pierce:
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
Each new year is a renewal of ourself…a chance to be a little more patient, a little more giving, a little more loving, a little ‘more’ of everything. I spend some time each December 31st thinking about the year that is about to close, and what I learned from it…what lessons from it I can apply to the brand new year that begins ‘tomorrow’. But before I look too far to the future, it’s as important to look to the past…the 365 days of 2013 that have come and nearly gone.
I used to be like so many others that made promises (some kept, many not) to treat themselves better in the new year…to lose weight, to give up vices and ‘bad’ habits….to save money, to get a new job….to take a wonderful trip. Sure I did some of these things. But I rarely ever thought to apologize to others and to myself for the foibles of the year that was withering away to memory.
Therefore, my day today is not to be spent setting goals for myself for the coming year, not to be spent making resolutions, but making reparations.
To my friends: If in 2013 I ever gave you a moment of doubt that I really cared by not being more present in your life , I am truly sorry. Some of you have had very difficult years….a marriage ending…cancer….deaths of loved ones….financial difficulties….I hope you know that I’ve read and heard your words, and you were on my mind and in my heart. 2013 has been a difficult year for me in many ways, very busy in others….and to know me is to know that in times of trouble, I tend to withdraw quite a bit and process all that is happening around me rather than reach out to share it. I find it terribly, terribly difficult to ask for ‘help’. I truly regret if this trait of mine led you to believe I had any less desire to have contact with you this year. I value your friendship, your support, and your love more than I can ever express.
To my kids: I know that at times I have so little patience when you are ‘just being kids’. I try, more often than you know, to put aside my own garbage and recognize that you won’t be young forever, and there is so much to savor and cherish about your childhood because it will be over before I know it. One day I know you won’t want to hold my hand, or sit on my lap, or crawl into bed with me and whisper funny things to one another. I’ll always look at you, no matter how old we all become, and wish to stroke your cheek, hold you close, and kiss the top of your head. I try to be the best parent to you I can. Sometimes I really get it right, and sometimes I don’t. I hope that when you are adults you look back upon this time of your life and rather than seeing me as a success or a failure as a parent, you see me merely as ‘human’….and know that no matter what patience I didn’t possess…no matter what attention I might not have paid at times because other things either were or just seemed more pressing….I never loved you any less.
To my spouse: I apologize for times when my own baggage gets in the way of being more understanding and supportive. I hope that after 13 years of my bullshit you’ve grown to know that my speaking in ‘the heat of the moment’ is when I tend to fall apart in terms of kindness, logic, and calm…..and I say ‘okay’ to get through that moment with little difficulty and then revisit the issue later on when I can better participate in the conversation that is needed, or set my own junk down to listen more, to understand better, and to respond from a place of love, rather than a place of wounding and fear.
To my parents: You’re both getting to a stage of life when you need more and more ‘care’….when the parents become the ‘children,’ and the children become the ‘parents’. I sometimes lose sight of the fact that you are both adults still, no matter what your needs are, and become too ‘heavy handed’ in my approach. It’s not because I don’t love you, or have any respect for you as adults, it’s because I fear seeing you suffer. I hate seeing you ‘go without’ and struggling to do what used to be so simple for you. I’ve watched the generation before you age and pass away. I know what is inevitable here. I am sorry if I have shown a lack of compassion for your needs and wishes in the past year in my desire to see you taken care of or taking the best care of yourself that you can. I love you both.
Lastly, to myself – I’m sorry for the times I’ve let you down, and ignored your needs and wants. Sometimes you are the easiest person to disappoint because you don’t yell at me and ask me ‘what the hell is wrong with you??!!!’ You don’t look at me with sorrowful eyes that silently reprimand me for not meeting your expectations. You don’t berate me for broken promises and missed accomplishments, and that makes it all the easier to overlook you most of all…to leave you behind and make you the last priority on my list. I do it time and time again, and you’d think by this age I’d learn to handle it better. Hopefully some day I will.
The change from one year to another is neither an end nor a beginning, it’s merely the continuation of the cycle of life….with one higher digit listed on the calendar. Before you look forward, look back…remind yourself where you’ve come from…where you’ve been….and then move ahead….move on….keep moving…keep growing…keep learning…keep trying. Keep doing new things, even when you fail at them. Keep changing yourself and your circumstances for the better. Keep reaching higher and doing a little bit more, and believe yourself capable of doing it all the while.
Most importantly, keep living.
Wishing all who are reading this and even those who are not great love, peace, and prosperity in the year to come…..and solace in and for the experiences of the year we all leave behind.