I’ve never been good at New Year’s. Not just the resolutions (although we’ll get to that in a bit), but at the whole holiday. I like the idea of celebrating what has been and the promise of what could be. I like the idea of champagne with loved ones and kisses at midnight. Of a fresh start.
But then every New Year’s Eve comes and regardless of whether I’m at a party or home with my parents and our pets, the actual moment never lives up to the hype. Midnight strikes, the ball drops, people kiss and cheer. But it has never–not once–felt momentous.
Because celebrating that one moment is inherently opposed to the promise of New Year’s. It’s a snapshot, literally one second of time. And New Year’s is all about change, about going from one thing to another, one year to the next, one self to someone else. And change requires a series of moments. It cannot be confined to that one instant.
I think romanticizing the stroke of midnight does me a disservice. Because the very first second of the new year has already disappointed me. Not that I believe the superstition that how the first day goes the rest will follow (though I do like the idea of starting the way you’d like to continue), but that disappointment ends up carrying through to my New Year’s Resolutions.
I always make them, and I don’t think I’ve ever, ever kept them. A few years ago, I thought maybe I never kept them because the goals were too lofty, so I made smaller ones: keep desk clean, wear Chapstick, drink more water. And still, I am incapable of following through.
These are things I want to do. They’re commitments I’ve made, and in every other situation I take commitments very seriously. It’s clearly not that the goals are unachievable or unsustainable. What is it?
A resolution is a statement. It’s a sentence or a post-it or maybe even a single word. It’s something you say once. But at it’s core, a resolution is about change. It’s about being one way and resolving to be another, and in my experience, change cannot be confined to one statement.
A resolution is not a magic spell. It’s a series of resolutions. Resolving each day, each hour, each moment to continue being one way, doing one thing, making one decision instead of another. Eventually–hopefully–it will stop being a matter of resolve and merely a matter of being.
But until then, string those moments together. And if one moment disappoints you, remember that there’s another right behind it. And another after that. A series of moments, choices, actions, opportunities.
I’m going to make resolutions again this year, maybe because I’m a masochist or maybe because I’m hopelessly optimistic. I’ll be posting a whole video of writing resolutions tomorrow (edited to add: here it is!), and I have some non-writing ones too:
- Read more diverse authors and stories
- Respond to emails sooner
- Respond to voicemails at all
- Stop watching shows I no longer enjoy (looking at you, Doctor Who)
- Make more plans with friends
- Go on more walks
- Quit undervaluing my time, skills, and experience
- Wear Chapstick
- Drink more water
If past performance is any indication, I won’t be keeping hardly any of these. But I think maybe I’ve cracked my own personal code. I wonder if I need to stop caring so much about single moments and more about the summation of all those moments: the change. Here’s hoping.
Happy New Year, everyone!