Imagine my life as a house. And imagine Ray Bradbury walked into that house unannounced and proclaimed,
“2014 is going to be different. You might not be happy all the time or find all the answers but this year is going to make you think about what is really valuable in life. You will identify and go after those things.”
Maybe Ray said those things and maybe he didn’t. But I’m saying it to you right now.
I’m currently reading Fahrenheit 451 and, let me say, it is the kind of book that makes one shift uncomfortably in bed before falling asleep. Similar to George Orwell’s 1984, this small book packs a realistic punch from a distant unimaginable future. I carry this futuristic dystopian society around with me–to the grocery store, at work, in the gym. How is our current reality similar to a world that hates philosophy and new ideas, a world that burns books? What would I do in such a society? Who would I be?
Which brings me to my very real and very vague 2014 New Year’s Resolution:
Life is short. Life is sweet. Life is NOW.
We are not always given the things we believe we need or deserve. The boss will not award us the promotion or extra week of vacation just because we sit passively waiting for our just desserts. I’ve yet to find my one “true love” while sitting on a park bench watching strangers pass me by. Living is not a passive verb and we are not a passive species. In 2014, I will find things that make my life worth (actively) living. And I will go after those things…whether I’m ready for them or not.
Sometimes you just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down.
In anticipation of the new year, I’ve purchased tiny pink cans of champagne, a blank Moleskin planner and a new purple ballpoint pen. With only two days left to overindulge in Christmas cookies and make plans for an overly anticipated NYE, I’ve set my mind ahead to 2014. Will my gung ho “fresh out the gate” enthusiasm for the next twelve months dissolve under the pressure of routine, procrastination and reliance on destiny? Only time will tell.
Glancing back at my 2013 planner, I witnessed small snapshots of my past year. I remembered meeting friends for the first time, auditioning for plays and dance groups, accepting a job, noting birthdays I remembered (or forgot), and a brief 3-month obsession with hot yoga. The experiences, mistakes, scheduled appointments– all filed away in the pages of months gone by.
How much do we change year to year, moment to moment? Years can pass us by without any noticeable change while a single event may alter the way we view our role in the world forever. My journal entry dated December 26th, 2013 read remarkably like my entry dated exactly one year earlier in 2012. I had the same feelings of nostalgia surrounding Christmas festivities as an adult, insecurity about my future, questions about the definition of home and the absence of romance in my life. Have I changed? How can I tell? Is change tangible, pencil marks on the wall for each inch and every year taller, or a continuous wave ebbing and flowing with the cyclical tide?
If I was to pick a New Year’s Resolution, it would have something to do with mindfulness. Mindnessful, “a state of active, open attention on the present (Psychology Today)” is linked to Buddhism and the practice of meditation. In his book A Gradual Awakening, Stephen Levine compares our thoughts to the cars of a train and encourages the reader to step away from the continuous flow of images and experiences, letting them pass by and disappear around the bend. I’m sick of being overbooked and underwhelmed. I will strength my resolve to live fully within these precious moments with a greater awareness of time and space. We have, after all, only ourselves to suffer with, to love with and to cherish.
Every year is given to us as a gift and it is up to each of us how we use the mystery beneath the wrapping paper.