It is a new year. 2009 quietly sauntered away, and let 2010 have it’s moment of arrival last night. Strange how the turning over of one minute, in-fact just one second, can mean so much to us. Amazing how it can continue to do it, year after year. New Year is not celebration of continuance, at least I don’t think it is for most of us. The “New Year” is about the “New.” New hopes and resolutions and adventures and…. Why are we so desperate, on – January 1, Midnite – To start all over?
This year I am banishing the idea of starting over, well at least I am going to try. We never REALLY get to start over, time doesn’t unwind itself and begin the ticking again. It just continues. It isn’t so much a year of NEW but a year of NEXT, of ANOTHER. Another is an awfully scary idea isn’t it? Instead of getting to sweep last year under the rug, and say to ourselves “Yes, but that was last year and this year we start all over!” maybe we should be saying, “You know last year, we had some ups and some downs. This year might be the same, but hopefully I can continue the growth I managed in the last 12 months.”
So instead of making “New Year’s Resolutions” I am making “Another Year’s Renewals”
At this point, having just turned 25 I no longer wonder what I will be like “one day” or think of the future me in that separated way that seems no natural in teenage years. The “real me” isn’t looming out there, some abstract idea — unattached and unconcerned with the realities of daily living. There is a strange sort of relief in that realization, too. I have come to terms with the fact that my life is nothing what I thought it would look like 10 years ago. In fact, I’m pretty glad. 15 year old me had some pretty awful ideas about my future self, although I must admit a few of them stuck. But the key, as my grandmother so wisely pointed out a few years back, is not that one cannot have it all. But that one cannot have it all at once. This is so true. The choices we make are usually not final, but solutions for the current day. This means that just because school was more important to me in 2009 than say, working out, I should not harass myself. Spending time with friends was more important to me than cleaning my room, do I feel guilty for that prioritization? Should I? I don’t think so. This is how it should be. Life is fluid. Life is always fluid.
So, what am I renewing this year? What little corners of my mind or soul or body have I let lay dormant in lieu of other priorities? My body is one. I have no shame in saying that I neglected my health this year, especially in the latter half. It was a choice I was making, and I take ownership of it. I also am giving myself a break. This was the most demanding academic year of my life. In the space of June-December I was enrolled in 31 hours. Half of which were upper level literature classes. The other half of which were science, math, and history classes. My least favorite, and therefore hardest subjects. That is just the break down of my classes! Am I making excuses for my bad habits? You betchya I am! I have them to make, so I am making them. The myth of perfection is not one I ascribe to, and I will not apologize for choices I willingly made to advance my scholastic well-being instead of my physical well-being. However, do i realize that these choices are ultimately not ones I can continue to make? Of course!
Renewal number 1: the ever so common – Physical Health.
I’m not concerned with being skinny, because check my butt, it is never gonna happen! Ha, but I do have specific goals in mind. I think when making a renewed commitment one should know exactly what it entails. For me it entails a few keys:
1. being more active in general- I miss hiking, I miss playing sports, I miss running and doing the things that make my blood pump hard and the sinews of my flesh feel lively!
2. toned arms- Every woman (and many men) has at least one area on their body that they find absolutely grotesque. For me, it’s my arms. I HATE my arms. But I have realized that this is not helping me. For all my hating, they aren’t getting in any better shape. Improvement requires action, and as I’m not one for hating, I figure maybe another approach would inspire the needed action. Maybe I should not worry so much about hating my arms, and instead focus on wanting to love my body. Listen to it, treasure it, honor it and treat it well. Love is a commitment, and I’m committed to loving my body. Even my arms.
3. 10 min mile. I hate running. I have had crap for knees since I was 10 and I grew too fast for my muscles to catch up to my bones. Ever since then I have been knock-kneed and they only got worse when I was playing sports and showing horses. Because of this, running is particularly hard for me. When I’m not doing it regularly it hurts. A LOT. So I am setting a goal that will require consistent running. The problem I will have, I can tell you, is pacing myself. I will have a good day and want to do sprints all day. But then two days later, my knees will be burning and I will skip it that day, making the previous time a complete and utter waste. For me the renewal of my body is an exercise in patience with myself as much as anything physical.
Renewal Number 2: Spiritual Health
I’m not exactly sure what this even means to be perfectly honest. But I know that at one point I felt a deep connection to something real and meaningful that could only be classified as “Spiritual.” Now, after the dismantling of childhood doctrines, and cultural bull-shit, I feel like it is time to start trying to access that part in my center that allows me to articulate my own spiritual life in some meaningful way. I don’t think I can ever un-Christianize myself, nor would I really ever want to. I happen to actually really like Jesus. Maybe not hell, classical theism, or even the Bible in most parts. And I definitely don’t want to be a part of a culture that subscribes to such a twisted Taker mentality as many Christian cultures do. This past year was full of realizations that how I believe is not how other people calling themselves by “Christian” tend to believe. However, the river is wide and ready for many boats, so maybe I am just a different kind of Christian. I’m okay with the ambiguity for 2009, but I want this year to have more intention when it comes to the “god-boat” I’m in. What do I believe? What do I believe matters about believing anything? Am I living accordingly?
Renewal Number 3: Creative Health
All in all 2009 was one of my most productive, artistic, and adventurous years in the realm of my creative spirit. I want to continue this in 2010. I want to step up my game. I want to narrow my focus down slightly, really find the art of telling story, of evoking feeling with my work. Also, I want my creative drive to be about more than just my own self-expression! I want to expand beyond my ego and make work that means something to not just me or my friends, but that is relevant in tangible ways. Something I have been chewing on is the role that the arts play in the life and vibrancy of a community. Micro or macro, how can art transform, change, be influenced by, articulate, breath, work, grow…in a community? This is something that will never be fully answered, but I want 2010 to be the year I continue asking and exploring this with renewed fervor.
Renewal Number 4: Relational Health
I will admit it. I am terrible at relationships. I don’t mean just romantic ones. I am not being self deprecating when I say that I am absolutely ill-equipped for carrying out healthy relational attitudes and behaviors. I am a person who used to trust too easily, then after a few dozen times of getting walked all over, I decided I didn’t have room in my heart for anyone. Oh sure, I am no mystery. I’m loud and funny and obnoxious and I can seem like the most confident person in the room if I want to, but to be honest most of the time I feel like someone is going to realize that I belong at the nerd table and send me away! So I act tough, like I don’t care. But really, I’m a big giant sap who loves having people in my life to love and care about! I usually try to refrain from actually telling this to anyone face to face though. This makes for a very big but very empty heart. I CAN say though that 2009 was a break-through year for this area of my life though. Turns out the older I get, the cooler the people I am lucky enough to know get too! Between living with my ever-open-hearted sister, Jerusalem, the trips to IHOP with Adam Moody, where we bared our souls to one another, spending countless hours at the lake with my happily vulnerable best friend, Sasha, and many more hours talking into the middle of the night with the ever-patient Casey, I have improved on letting my guard down. There were so many other people who helped me too! All the people on staff at the Oracle, my wonderful theater troupe, and many of my new friends in the English department (Shakespeare bonds, ya know!) have proven to me that people are good, and that they are worth letting in! I still struggle to find a balance between holding on to myself and being open to others, but I am so grateful that 2010 looks like an even better year than the last because of the wonderful people I have in my life.
That is it, that is all my renewals. It’s a short list, but it’s a deep one. Honestly, this year I don’t feel the sense of urgency to change my entire life. Turns out, I kinda like my life. There are things I want to improve on, habits I would like to break, but all-in-all I’m actually pretty happy. So…I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t want to start all over in 2010. I just want to keep going. I like the road I’m on.
In the chasm that lays between semesters and years and seasons, is that space, that much-needed space to clean out, rearrange, or rebuild all-together, the shape of our lives. Just make sure to realize that if you are rebuilding, starting over, it is okay to use salvaged parts. In fact, it’s better.