I am spending this New Year’s Eve in, and it feels just right. I went to an evening yoga class with a favorite instructor, made sweet dumpling squash soup and a greens-apple-beet salad, and parked myself on the couch. And then got up and made my a personal-sized chocolate cookie ice cream cake, and then parked myself again, finally to write.
The idea of making resolutions strikes me differently on different years. Some years I love the forward pull of goals, of things I pledge to do every day, of the promise of transformation. Some years I don’t want the pressure of trying to better myself; I want to be right here rather than striving towards somewhere else.
This year both sentiments are pulling on me. The past few months, I’ve dug into the thought processes that have led me to eat too little and move too much. I’ve recognized that I both crave and fear stillness; I know how satisfying it is to quiet my mind, yet I resist it with twitchy Facebook checks and absent-minded nibbles.
Likewise, somehow, I both crave and fear motion. I love the feeling of gaining traction towards an endpoint – an exam, an organized spice rack, a scary and awesome vision for life after grad school – yet I find myself pulling back to the safety of…Facebook and nibbling.
So I find myself wanting direction, intention, traction, and yet knowing that in my mind, those good things lie a hairsbreadth away from obsession. I want to make resolutions, but more self-imposed rules are not what I need. I need strength, and rigidity is not strength.
I also find myself sinking into languid, decadent relaxation like I’ve never let myself before. I am loving long, heavy nights of sleep without the pressure to wake up for a workout. I am drinking whole goddamned cocktails when I go out, accompanied by charcuterie and cheeses and sweet potato fries. I’m learning how to do holidays like I mean it, with scratch pumpkin pie, real whipped cream, and Christmas brunch with four different baked goods. I’m learning to hang out with my family all afternoon without feeling like I should go for a run. I’m learning to let myself be with, rather than trying to keep separate.
I’ve learned to appreciate these holidays as full, rich, and literally grounding. More important is that I’m letting myself experience different states of being; some days feel big, heavy, grounded, full to bursting. Others feel busy, light, forward-moving, pulling me to sharpness and precision. Disorder for me, ironically, is seeking too much order. It’s choosing one feeling – light, sharp, never settling, always striving – and hewing to it all the time. A state of high performance is perfectly fine, but only in balance with a state of low performance, or non-performance. Strength comes from work, nourishment, and rest. I’m catching up on the latter two.
So, resolutions. I made a list of what I want from the coming year. Most of the items are conceptual, less concrete than a motivational speaker or life coach would accept. I have a few measurable action steps, like shutting down Facebook and email while I’m working, and I will play with how to put intention rather than force behind steps.
Resolution means more than just intention, though. It’s also the end of conflict, the state of balance after tension is released. It’s the place that motion stops and from which it starts; it’s the end of the book, before the protagonists get immersed in the drama of volume two. Like the electrons whose jumping and falling creates light, we need both a resting place and a place that induces reach. Settling is beautiful, but staying settled means dying.
I’m taking this New Year’s Eve to settle a bit, to take in the resolution of this year before the next begins. And I’m also putting my intention towards the kind of resolution that comes in photographs: clarity. My vision won’t always be sharp, but I can keep my eyes up so I don’t miss it when the clouds disperse.
So this year, resolution in a few forms: intention, rest amidst motion, and clarity.
Fewer nibbles. More bites.
Happy New Year, all.