I am not sentimental. But, I do love a good New Year's resolution.
Not because of the coincidence with culture's doing the same, but simply because I value highly self-reflection and continual reconsideration of identity and motivations - lifestyle, habits, priorities - who we are, what we do, and above all, why.
Those traits can, do, and should - as far as I've learned - always change. Therefore yes, at some point they may also cease to change, though if all or all at once, you've either won, or died.
Personal resolutions precipitate exploration which inevitably results in learning and so growth and a deeper understanding of: at least something.
This year, in considering a New Year's resolution, I wrote through my reflections on the year. Writing is how I think best, and I've found that working through thoughts that way is conducive to both mapping a present landscape in order to recalibrate - face north - and for documenting the process of resolving whatever it is we then do. (It also makes for great later reading when we revisit those continually evolving qualities that compose our selves.)
While reflecting, I recalled the year. A job change, a relationship, growth for RX, travel, health and generally rewarding expansions in each of the areas of life we've been taught to consider important. It had also been a challenging year. I'd faced a solid set of fears in the hands of a shaman in Peru, shed a few more in the company of a forceful (read: loving) new best friend, and been called to reconsider my career ambitions, which hadn't changed since I'd first set my sights on them, as a kid.
On the other side of those things, and the year, I concluded that I wasn't sentimental (go figure) nor relieved. I wasn't eager for it to be over nor to continue as-was. I didn't feel resolved though much had been resolved. That is how I felt, which is not always an accurate expression of how we are.
What we are resolved of though, can determine how we act or react, which then does create how we are.
I concluded that I knew more. I knew myself better. I knew that I want to know more. Know what though, I didn't know.
Previously, my New Year's resolutions have gone something like "get younger," "be the healthiest you've ever been," "let nothing change" (that didn't work) and "do less, better". This year, I resolved to create space.
The intention reminded me of the year I moved in to my apartment in Bedstuy before it was cool to live there and so no one did and which meant that every morning I woke up to the sound of birds and rustling trees (grinning).
The apartment felt far too big for me. Even the owners asked what I would do with all of the space. After pacing through it with a candle in-hand many a night because I didn't yet know my way around by feel or memory, I came to know what I'd felt slowly but surely from the moment I'd walked in: that the extra room would become RX - that yet undeveloped territory of myself. (Not that I know yet or exactly what that is, but that's okay because we're learning.)
To create space, I decided on a flight to Costa Rica where we would close the year at a simple retreat - surfing and practicing yoga. There, in a final savasana, I realized that one of the central teachings of yoga asana practice is to create space. That is, to create physical space in the poses - between the limbs or inside the body - in order to go deeper. By creating space, you are then able to move into it.
I realized it was the metaphor for my resolution.
And so I left it at that. Typically, I then set specific goals for my resolution - milestones to meet on the road to the destination, which we all know tends to be a best practice for achieving, period. With this resolution though, I was requiring myself to do the opposite (another thing I like to make myself do - break habits, retrain a neural pathway, shake it up, down or out): erase tasks from my to-do list rather than add them, find time rather than filling it, and generally free myself from the one thing we are truly beholden to, which is ourselves.
The other appreciable element of this resolution is that it feeds my love of learning by experience. With a child's mind, guided by impulse or intuition, to chase curiosity to Wonderland and just generally discover what's down there.
One month later, after more than a few bouts of restlessness (I am really not good at just relaxing, especially when paired with sobriety - being snowed-in for a weekend almost killed me), I find myself in a state I can't recall ever maintaining when not on a retreat or a beach: relaxed. Occasionally apathetic, frankly. Though happy.
Moving more slowly is odd, I'll say. It's a stark contrast to my typical pace, which I don't promise not to return to, but my adrenals at least appreciate the recovery. And most importantly, it's exploration.
My to-do list, which is titled "The Endless" and which I've maintained for years as a GoogleDoc in order to update it any time from anywhere, and which typically ran around eight pages long, is now only one, and contains actually doable, immediately important tasks. The rest of it I took one last look at, line by line, and then simply deleted. Ah, white space.
Next, I took to my closet. And my Dropbox folders. My jewelry box: who needs it? Drawers and my morning routine: goodbye eyeliner and while we're at it, adios manicures. Then, I actually picked up the book I nearly finished writing ... a year ago.
One month in, this is what I've found to be true. Knowing that next month, it may all have changed:
Creating space allows us to move into it, or to not move into it. It allows us to learn our edges. Space allows room for breath - for anything we're engaged with to fully develop, for new ideas to form and old ones to resolve. It allows us to be.
The most challenging thing about creating space is not filling it.