It's already the fourth Thursday of the new year. How's that New Year's resolution of yours going? Still alive and going strong, or staggering in the desert of abandoned expectations, desperate for a drink of something magical that will rejuvenate your desire and drive?
I don't know about you, but the first months of every year hit me where it hurts. Maybe it's the dearth of light, living up here in the NW corner of our great country, not to mention the grey and the near-constant rain. Maybe it's the return to reality, as the holiday celebrations that peppered my evenings and preparations that consumed my spare time recede into memory like so much crumpled and discarded wrapping paper. As the decorations come down, the dead Christmas trees litter the sidewalks, and all those cheerful, twinkling strings of color disappear from the streets, I find myself feeling tired and aimless.
Not that I'm not supposed to be busy, not that my to do list is empty -- far from it -- but when my emotional energy flags, my best intentions are left to fend for themselves. Who cares about those extra pounds I swore I'd start carving off at the first of the year? 9 p.m. on a rainy Tuesday night, a couple of squares of dark chocolate seems like the right thing to end the day. And what about my daily writing habit, that love/hate practice of mine that I dread all the way up to the point of seating myself in my chair, opening my journal, and uncapping my pen? 6 a.m. comes way too early, and way too dark. No matter what visions of great writing dance in my head, I struggle when it comes to getting out of bed and moving in the direction of putting words to paper.
That's how dreams often die. Quietly.
And those New Year's resolutions are just that: snippets of a bigger dream, steps along the way to creating a life that is better in some way. And while three weeks is really not that long -- after all, it's just over 5 percent of a year -- it's an eternity in the world of establishing a new habit or letting a best intention wither in the harsh world of unwatered desire. Twenty-one days, or 22 even more so, growing into a mountain of incontrovertible proof that I am not committed enough, tough enough, smart enough, fill-in-the-blank enough to deliver on the dream that motivated me to commit so heartily on the eve of 2015.
And then, the temptation to toss it all aside grows really strong. Forget all that stuff I thought about. Being fit, lean, and strong. Being a productive writer. Who cares about the ideas I've been noodling on? It doesn't matter if they find their way to paper. Just let me slink away from the dreams that motivated my voicing those resolutions in the first place.
I've shown my true colors: The impulse to accept the inevitable and move on to a year that may well prove more ordinary than inspiring is moving to center stage in my brain and campaigning for the title of reality. Time to accept the inevitable: I'm not all I wished I could be.
If you're with me on this feeling of doomed right out of the gate, then I'm asking you: Don't do it! Don't give up quite yet! Okay, maybe this hasn't been the smoothest of fresh starts for you or me. I'm not going to fight the messy truth. I'm not going to wrap my excuses in gauzy rationales. And what about you? I hope you won't throw out tomorrow's promise because of yesterday's (and the day before's and maybe even today's) inaction. Dreams don't come true in a day anyway; the bigger they are, the longer they usually take to jump the divide between fantasy and reality. What's two or three weeks in the grand scheme of things? This is the first challenge to your big plans: the first obstacle. It's a doozy, maybe, but all the better. A perfect chance to test yourself.
If you're feeling a bit disheartened about the gap between your best intentions and your mediocre follow-through, you're not alone. I'm right there with you. But don't leave me now! I'm starting the new year a bit late this year... tomorrow! And I hope you'll join me in rejuvenating your resolutions by remembering what originally motivated your inspiration.