And Just Like That, It's 2019!
I gave up New Year's resolutions years ago. I, like most people, seem to be horrible at sticking to these attempts to alter life as I know it. Instead, I've deliberately offered myself a softer prompt reframed as intentions. Intentions are less stringent and more loosely defined than resolutions. The latter could include, for example, going to gym three times a week or sticking to 1500 calories a day, both of which could be measured and both of which could easily be categorized as failures the minute I was non-complaint. As the pattern goes, this would be followed by a cloak of self-loathing that would cover me for weeks to come. What I realized is that transformation could never be evoked under the weight of such.
The beauty of a new year is that it brings with it, if I'm willing, an awakening of new parts of me or perhaps, more accurately, the real parts of me that have been there all along. Those parts that were previously buried, purposefully hidden, under excuses and fear eventually are birthed through the lessons the old year proffers. What this requires, however, is a hard look back.
2018 started with one of the harshest lessons I've ever had to learn. It wasn't even a new lesson, but merely a stark reminder of that which I already knew. Life is short. Damned short. I remember walking into my office first thing, one Tuesday morning, when a text message popped in from a friend. I looked at it and then, as my body began to tremble, I looked again. It was a screenshot of someone else's Facebook post which included a picture of my dear friend and the words, "Timothy went to heaven last night." The text from my friend also pleaded, "Please tell me this is not true!" I hadn't heard so I couldn't accommodate the request but it took all of 25 minutes and a few phone calls to confirm that life, from this point forward, would go on without this man. He had been my friend for over thirty years and he was, without a doubt or exaggeration, one of the funniest, most talented men I had ever known, even if he couldn't see it. The "even if he couldn't see it" part was perhaps what made his unbearable death even more devastating. I wept with friends as I broke the news, all the while toggling between what felt like grim reality and a vivid nightmare from which I would soon awaken. He was indeed gone and, as the cliché goes, much too soon. The perspective that always comes with a sudden death revolves, for me, around these three themes: The amount of complaining I do (note to self: please be thankful for all the good you have,) the procrastination I've perfected (note to self: do what you love now as tomorrow isn't guaranteed) and unmended relationships (note to self: Make peace with those you love because the alternative is wasteful.) I miss him and I'm thankful for the time I had with him.
2019 started with another lesson. A lighter one, but a necessary and equally powerful reminder all the same: Relationships are everything. I rang in the new year with some of my dearest friends, ones I shared with Timothy. We grew together, from the time we were in college, until now. We have celebrated and supported one another through life's highest highs and lowest lows. We have shared tears of laughter and sorrow, all the while witnessing each other and how life had caused us to learn and grow. And on this New Year's eve we were together, for the first time in a long while. We ate. We reminisced. We laughed. We cried. We pondered meaningful questions and relished in each others' answers. But most of all, we loved. And we will continue to love. Therein lies the year ahead.
My intentions for the year to come are simple and easy. I will do more of what makes me happy. I will spend time with people I love. I will fret less about that which I have no control. I will make healthier decisions. And I will not focus on quantifying my failures; instead, I will celebrate my successes in deliberate and mindful fashion. (I'll let you know how that goes.)