Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Easing In

Monday, after the kids' first day back at school post-Christmas break, Joyboy hopped into the van and sighed heavily.

"What's up, kid? Didn't have a good day?" I asked.

"It was all right. It's just that it's a new year but everything was the same as before."

Yep. So … Happy New Year and … whatever.

When I was twelve, I travelled immediately after Christmas with my aunt and uncle to visit family in another province. I spent New Year's Eve with my aunt and her sons. We watched a movie, played a few games and then minutes before midnight she started handing out pots, pans and wooden spoons and told us to go outside. I thought she was nuts but it turned out that the whole town was a little loopy because we weren't the only ones out on the street in our pjs and with cook wear in hand. At the stroked of midnight the air was filled a cacophony of whoops, hollers and the banging of pots and pans. In under a minute the neighbourhood fell silent again and we went inside and straight to bed. Tons of hoopla then nothing.

For months before New Year's Eve 1999, people worried, planned, speculated and dreaded the anticipated fall out from the clocks rolling over to 2000. Some experts predicted a total, world-wide computer failure that would spark food shortages, water contamination and riots. I knew people - personally knew people - who were stockpiling food, water, batteries and weapons for the impending apocalypse. People were crazy with fear. I watched the midnight come and go in Australia, Asia and Europe and nothing happened. No computer virus taking out world systems. No riots. No shortages or panic. It was all very anti-climatic. I went to bed before midnight local time and the world kept on humming. Nothing changed.

2016. A new year. Same friends. Same family. Same co-workers. Same job. Same church. Same commitments. Same schedule. Same hopes. Same dreams. Same. Same. Same.

Before you abandon this post as the most depressing thing you've read so far this year take a minute and read that last sentence again. Read it with your inflections going up instead of down. It's all the same. You don't have to start over. You don't have to figure it all out from the beginning. Its all the same today as it was on December 31 at 11:59pm. There's no pressure here. There's no expectation of grand changes and life altering moments. It's just the same.

I think sometimes we put too much pressure on the new year. We place all our hopes on a new year being a significant moment of change. We make crazy resolutions. We make bold pronouncements. We make wild wishes. And then we hold our breath, cross our fingers and plead with the heavens to come through for us. Come on, Universe, don't leave me hanging! I've tweeted that this is my year! Don't let me down! Then when life continues to happen, as it inevitably does, we feel let down and discouraged. The New Year disappointed us. There's nothing new, just all the same. Blah.

What if we do things differently this year? What if 2016 isn't all about what's new? What if 2016 is all about taking the good from 2015 and bringing it forward? What if 2016 welcomed The Same with open arms and continued to build on to what 2015 and 2014 and 2013 and so on had already established as pretty solid and stellar? What if we eased into this year with no expectation but only permission to keep moving forward? What would that look like?

I figure it would turn 2016 into a year to be proud of. I think it would be a year of growth by degrees, of more smiles than tears, more love than frustration and more sustainable change than short term gestures. I think it would leave room for more self-love, bigger dreams and even a few calculated risks. I think we would be kinder to ourselves and others by the time this new year became old. I think we would be bolder, braver, smarter, wiser and more compassionate than ever before. I think 2016 would be the best year ever if we would only take the time to ease our way in.

Some of my Facebook buddies have suggested choosing a word or phrase as a theme for this year rather than making a resolution. Some of done it in the past and it's been very meaningful for them. I've not done it before but I might this year. This year my phrase may become 'Ease In'. I think I need that reminder. I can tend to be a bit of a bull in a china shop. I can also tend towards fretting when I can't see a clear path ahead. I've been in the weeds for months and its made me a bit wonky. I think I need to remember to ease in and that Winnie the Pooh once said, "Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them." So maybe I'm not in the weeds. Maybe I'm in the wild flowers. Maybe I'm in exactly the spot I'm meant to be. Maybe I'll know that better when I ease in.

Change is good but rushing isn't. Growth is necessary but stretching yourself past the breaking point isn't. Goals and dreams are vital but unattainable expectations are damaging. Plan. Look ahead. Move forward … just at an easy pace rather than a headlong charge. Just ease in a bit.

And what's a butterfly? At best,
He's but a caterpillar, at rest.
~John Grey