A lot of new year's hyperbole centres around the idea of a fresh start. That, somehow, the slate is wiped clean when the clock changes. You know what? The slate is never clean. Your past still exists. You can't turn back the clock. There is no backspace button for life. January 1st is just another day.
Which is why I have always been uncomfortable with New Year's resolutions.
Most years, I never made them. People would assume that weight loss would be my goal, or they'd tell me it should be. Some years I would half-heartedly announce some grandiose plans. But they never stuck.
In fact, when I decided to start swimming, it was between Christmas and New Year's of 2011. I had lost a bit of weight since the summer, just enough that I knew clothes fit differently and people asked, hesitantly, "have you lost some weight?" My body was telling me it wanted to move. I felt, for the first time, like exercising. And I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that if I waited until January 1st that it simply wouldn't happen. The pools were closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I swam lengths on December 27th. I think I barely made it for 15 minutes. The next day, I was in the pool again. And the day after that. By the time January 1st of 2012 rolled around, I had already swum enough days in a row to feel like a swimmer. The habit wasn't fully formed yet, but I was confident that I would keep it up.
And, I did.
But that`s a story for another day.
Today, on the first day of 2014, two full years later, what I am thinking about is how starting swimming on December 27th was the best thing I ever did. Not waiting *until* a certain time. When I was ready, I started.
Over the last few years, I have had many moments of wanting to give up. Questioning whether the effort was all worth it. The only way I kept going when it was overwhelming was that I took it one day at a time. And when I slipped up, I started over again. Every day provided the same fresh start as January 1st. Every day, I resolved to keep trying.
Folks, a year is a long time. A lot can happen. A lot of things you can't possibly plan for can happen. Which is ultimately why so many resolutions made at a time like this fail. They're vague. They're often negative, all about erasing our flaws in one fell swoop. Out with the old, in with the new. But it doesn't work that way.
It's small changes, one at a time, that build up over the year. It's the sum of what you do, day in and day out, that make up the year. I was not where I wanted to be, at the end of 2013. Yet, as I look back over the past year, I have to admit: it kind of WAS my year. I flipped tires. I portaged a canoe on a 6-day trip. I met a lot of new friends. I increased the number of pushups I could do. I tried things for the first time, like racquetball and doing a keg stand (!) and scaling a climbing wall. How can a few bad weeks negate all of that, just because they happen to fall at the end of the year and not in the middle?
So. No resolutions this year. Not New Year's ones, at least.
Wake up every day and commit or re-commit to myself. Keep going. That is what I resolve to do.
To look forward, and make the rest of my life the best of my life, not just this year.
Another year I made a promise to myself. Another year, I turned it all around.
"Do not save this for tomorrow. Embrace the past and you can live for now."