Turn of a new year. Thoughts of the past – regrets or sentimentality. Hopes for what lies ahead. Helpless feeling of time’s rapid march. Excitement of pondering what’s to come. What will happen during the earth’s next revolution around the sun? More importantly, what will happen in my life during that time?
Not to sound self-centered, but isn’t that the gist of what people think about as the calendar changes years? How great was this past year…for me. What will happen this next year…to me. It’s natural instinct. We are human after all. We tend toward selfishness – even if it starts out as a year-end introspection. Still, even if we seem to focus on self, we recognize our life can (and should) positively impact the lives of family, friends and strangers. So, we care. And we should. How do I really matter?
Years back I would always – exactly on New Year’s Day, mind you – write out my New Year’s resolutions. I physically wrote them. At some point I tried to type them instead, thinking it was a more up-to-date way of doing things. My lists invariably contained lines about losing that extra five pounds or eating healthier or reading more books or spending more time in prayer and contemplation. All very noble. All very ridiculous, if you know me.
Something happened to me about five years ago. It had been a tough year. The calendar turned. New Year’s Day glared at me from a blank page. I thought hard. I didn’t really know what to write. Everything fell flat. It all echoed of confusion about the way forward and past failures to live up to resolutions. Failures to reach the goal. Failures to stop myself from writing the same old taunting resolutions.
So I simply stopped. I thought about what made me happy. I recalled an exercise from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way where I lined out a perfect day. Two things I had included in my perfect day leapt to the forefront of my memory: taking a bubble bath and drinking bubbles (and for me that meant sparkling wine).
In that moment of remembrance, it dawned on me that my New Year’s resolutions could be as simple as putting into practice things that would be included in a perfect day. And that somehow, by doing these small things, my life would be richer and fuller. And if my life became richer and fuller, it would overflow to others. That the filling-up would turn inside-out toward the world.
Since that epiphany, each year as the calendar turns, I renew my two standing resolutions:
- Drink more bubbles!
- Take more bubble baths!
The New Year is here – find those things you’d include in your perfect day and do them – often. I hope that will include, on occasion, popping a cork and lifting a glass. Clink!