How to Make the New Year Easy
“Your life is not a problem to be solved but a gift to be opened.” ― Wayne Muller
I am sitting at my desk, my legs folded up under me wondering, how to make the New Year easy. On my desk sits a cup filled with hot black french roast coffee, a pink pen, a spiral bound notebook I write my morning pages in, an assortment of candles in various jars and tins of which a cream-colored sandalwood candle is lit, the flame flickers when the furnace kicks on and gently blows warm air in my little study. Riggins my older black cat is perched behind me on top of my old ratty office chair, the one that is literally falling apart but I keep because it has a tall wide back that the cats like to sit on while I write.
All of this feels easy.
I sit and watch the sky unfold a tender pink that pushes away the dark slate blue of night. I hear a few birds begin to chirp at the bird feeder. Later when the sun warms the frozen ground finches, chickadees and cardinals will dance and sing around the feeder pecking and filling up on millet and sunflower seeds. The cats will sit at the window and watch, their tails flicking back and forth as they watch the birds for hours. This routine will unfold like most days. It is predictable like my habit of thinking my worth comes from what I accomplish or in how much I strive and do—keeping myself in an endless loop of busyness.
I sit and note that this morning is like any other Sunday morning only today is January 1st. A day of new beginnings. I feel a twinge, a need to make this morning wise, purposeful, with deep meaning. A need that is sitting on my shoulders, a heavy weight on my already sore muscles. My shoulders, a place where I carry so many of my unspoken expectations to be perfect, to do more, to prove I am enough.
However, this habitual need is becoming unfamiliar. This need to prove, do and achieve is not easy.
After a year of committing myself to less doing, less striving—letting go of the notion I need to make myself better, I able to feel the weight of the unspoken expectations sitting on my shoulders to make the new year special. This is progress. A year ago I couldn’t feel the tightness in my belly that said to make this ordinary Sunday morning exceptional because it was New Year's Day.
This year I am able to feel the weight and tightness. I am able to witness it with compassion and be still. I don’t have to react. I know this is a habit. I know the impulse to set goals, start a diet, get productive, start a 100 day project, do anything that I think is going to make me better is only but an illusion, a drug, a false promise.
The new year is dangerous territory for someone who is recovering from chronic busyness. Everywhere I look is the seductive call to start again, plan my year, become a new me, a me I always wanted—become good enough finally. So much of the rhetoric that swirls around the New Year is my drug of choice. Set goals, plan, do better, all of it calls out to my inner sense of lack, it tells me I can be good enough if only I do everything right and perfect. Set the right goals, have the right metrics, be the most productive. On and on the list goes offering false promise.
What I have learned this past year is that all of this striving and doing is me trying to feel good enough and it is not easy. Yet the very things I think are going to help me feel good enough are what keep me feeling not good enough. The goals, the planning, the striving, it all continues to tell me I am not good enough.
It takes great effort and fortitude to not react to the marketing pressures to be a new you in the New Year. To not respond to the "act now because a New Year only comes once a year so order now" pressure.
All of which is rubbish. There is a way to make this easy.
Someone posted on social media the other day “None of this New Year New You malarky. Last year I was fabulous and this year I will be too.” This says it all. I am fine—no I am fabulous.
I ended 2016 hiking out in woods, having a homemade dinner with my honey and reading a book in bed. I rang in the new year sleeping, resting my body so I could wake and feel good to start 2017. This was all easy.
So how to make the New Year easy?
No new goals, no new beginnings, no proving, striving or planning. I am enough and each day is enough. I will wake, drink hot coffee, watch the cats watch the birds, write if I feel like it, mediate, move my body. I will be gentle. I will be kind. I will smile. All of this is easy.