It’s the week of the New Year New You! We get to start over like we’re brand new!
Except that I’m starting to strongly suspect that becoming brand new is a lie. In fact, I think it is quite possibly a pervasive delusion brought to us courtesy of infomercials and pharmaceutical ads. Unless it’s true that you can just pop a few fat burning pills, turn over some real estate with the $200 in your savings and then you end up holding hands with your soulmate while lounging luxuriously in adjacent bathtubs.
Yeah, well, probably not.
Mainly, I believe there are no fresh starts because I’ve yet find myself in a place in life that truly equates to a clean slate. I don’t think it’s impossible, though. I suppose if you wake up with amnesia and no one will claim you, then you do in fact, get a fresh start. Poof! All your mistakes are gone. Maybe you’ll forget you can’t resist cupcakes, that you procrastinate, and that you get your feelings hurt over silly things. And on some days I really do think that sounds like absolute bliss.
Then just before I decide who I might talk into smacking me on the head with a shovel to achieve this bliss, I remember the whole picture of what I would lose. In between all those imperfections were the moments that actually made me believe in the magic and the point of this life.
I would lose the bobcat that strolled by me in the chaparral, dismissing me with a quick flick of his ears as if I belonged.
I would forget turning to see my hawk gliding to my glove suspended across a low-hung full moon.
I’d be short a night’s worth of laughter around a campfire and early hour whispering about possibilities and hopes in a tiny tent.
I would forever lose an eerie midnight drive across the Mojave, the darkness on a two-lane desert highway barely penetrated by headlights and the sky punctuated by the ghostly defection of stray stars.
If I want to keep all that, then I have to admit that I don’t get to start clean. I’m going to have to take 2015 with me. I can’t pretend like we never had a torrid affair and scrub it from my life.
I’m starting to think that I’ve been doing it wrong, this whole New Year’s resolution thing. I’m wondering why I’m expected to treat every year as if it betrayed me and try to start over. And even if 2015 did betray me, why should I end my relationship with it so callously?
It tried to be a good year. Hell, 2015 did the best it could with what it had to work with. Sometimes it crafted miraculous moments out of what seemed like insurmountable odds. Occasionally it let me down so spectacularly that I wondered if it actually hated me. Most of the time though, it was just there, innocuous and ticking along with me. Damn. Now that I think about it, 2015 actually sounds downright human.
So why do I need to miraculously become a better person at midnight so that 2016 will love me more?
I DO want to be a better person and I want 2016 to be better than its predecessor. But I believe that kind of “better” is a million mile march down a path that constantly forks. I could be skinny, more focused, and just generally a nicer person, but that isn’t going to happen on a brick road leading straight to Oz and paved with golden New Year’s resolutions. It’s going to happen on that tricksy road full of choices and I don’t think I should be asking anything more of myself than to pause and try to choose the fork that doesn’t tempt me with cupcakes. And then when I chose it anyway, I just need to get back on the right path and try again.
So thank you, 2015. I loved you in my way. There is no reason to despise you so I can pretend like this is a clean slate and you never existed. You be exactly what you were and I’ll try to remember you as fondly as can. And I will be exactly who I was in 2015, that girl who keeps trying, only… just maybe with a few less cupcakes.