It’s January 1. For many people, that means setting New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight, make your bed, stop swearing, learn to play the guitar, be nicer to your brother in law or any other of a host of actions small or large all designed to make us better.
Because, obviously, we need fixing.
It’s strange that after a season of love and light, we begin a new calendar with gauntlet of rules, restrictions and judgements. After celebrating with an abundance of gifts, friends and family, we become convinced that we’re not good enough.
Resolutions, when you think about it, kind of suck. Or maybe that’s just my sour grapes talking because I’ve never met a resolution that I couldn’t break in record time.
I’ve been thinking about this for the past day or so, even taking the time to look up the definitions of “resolution.” Curious? Here they are:
A firm decision to do or not to do something.
A formal expression of opinion or intention agreed upon by a legislative body, committee or other formal meeting, typically after taking a vote.
The quality of being determined or resolute
The action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter
The passing of a discord into a concord during the course of changing harmony.
The disappearance of inflammation, or of any other symptom or condition.
The process of reducing or separating something into its components.
The conversion of something abstract into another form
The smallest measurable interval by a scientific device, i.e. the degree of detail visible in a photographic image
No wonder resolutions never stick. Anything that a committee can do, typically after taking a vote, is hardly something to stir the heart.
But then I looked at the root of the world. “Resolution” comes from the Latin world “resolvere” which means to loosen or release.
That’s a whole different kettle of fish.
What if we began a new year with release rather than restriction? What if instead of a frantic bid to acquire new habits we instead evaluated ways to relax into our lives and remove what isn’t working? What if we loosened expectations and replaced them with gratitude?
Perhaps the word “resolution” itself is to blame. If all it means to us is the solving of a problem, then we will continue to spend each January determined to fix ourselves. But maybe we could think of it differently.
Shouldn’t change come to us more as a chord progression resolving from dissonance to harmony?
Shouldn’t the result of a resolution feel healing and freeing, like the disappearance of a fever?
Might our resolutions stem from the conversion of an abstract idea or dream into reality?
I have made a resolution for the new year, but it is different than any I’ve made (and promptly abandoned) in the past. It is all about dissolving old ways of thinking and releasing old hurts. It is supportive and loving and curious and optimistic.
It’s one thing, deceptively simple, but could change everything if I have the courage to let it.
I’m not going to share it here because it’s too nascent and fragile for opinion or comment. And, in the end, it only matters to me.
For you, I wish a day spent reflecting on what is working well in your life. A close accounting all the resources you have at your disposal, be it a warm house, good friends or sound mind and body. A celebration of another day to do something kind for another. A bracing walk in the cold air or a cozy nap in front of a fire.
(Or both, because that would be an AWESOME day, wouldn’t it?)
I would wish us all a year free of trying to fix ourselves or anyone else. Instead may we all spend our remaining days simply loving ourselves and each other with curious, forgiving, exuberant hearts.
Photo taken by me, with an iPhone, on a plane,
as the sun rose over the mountains a few days before Christmas.