“We may easily proceed thus to infinity…”
Happy new year.
First day of first month of first year of new decade.
Also, time doesn’t exist so that’s all made-up.
Remember when we freaked out about technology ending, 01/01/2000? Remember when we freaked out because the Mayan calendar stopped at 2012? Maybe we just like to freak out about made-up things.
Despite the less-than-dependable nature of time and calendars and, I guess, reality, Today is a significant day. If you want it to be. Today can be a marker, a milestone, or an altar. Or all three.
An altar is for sacrificing things you no longer need to carry with you.
A milestone is for noticing how far you’ve come, being aware of your own meandering progress. (Doesn’t matter if your progress is slow: take all the time you want. You can take infinite amounts of a made-up substance, because we’ll keep making it. More on this in the next book notes issue.)
A marker is for establishing a new starting point, a point of decision.
I like to use the first day of the new year as a day to make decisions.
Not decisions like a hopeful resolution that will make me feel less insecure if I stick to it and more insecure if I give up on it, which (giving up) is what happens always with insecurity-fueled resolutions. Fear is an excellent stand-in for short-term motivation, but not good for long-term commitment. And by long-term, I mean anything more than, say, a week. So. the decisions I like to make on new year’s day are not about eating healthier or exercising more or being a kinder person or any of that crap, which is all great stuff, if you’re into crap.
It’s crap because 99.9% of it isn’t about being real.
Resolutions are for hiding
Resolutions are not about being better people, or overcoming our vices, or achieving things that matter. Resolutions are about COVERING SHIT UP.
Resolutions are an attempt to put more layers between the dangerous world of others and the very real and vulnerable parts of you.
For example, what does it mean to “be a kinder person”? It means to act as if I am a kinder person. It means hold in that asshole tone I want to use. It means don’t flip that person off. It means don’t say that (incredibly witty but also) incredibly insulting and unkind thing I want to say. It’s not about changing the part of me that is unkind, but covering it up better so fewer people see it.
Covering up is a valid way to operate in our world of social expectations; covering up can help us fit in, get approval, feel included, and that can lead to some sort of success. It’s valid, I guess, but it isn’t ideal. If I succeed in my resolution and change my external behavior, and “get somewhere” because I’ve done it well enough, I’ve only succeeded in locking my real self down even tighter, and being more invested in keeping it locked down and never letting anyone ever ever ever get a glimpse of that part of me.
If we reverse our resolutions, we find the part we’re trying to hide: the “being kinder” resolution is me trying to hide my inner sweary-asshole bitchy self. (I’m obviously not doing a good job, those swears just keep coming.)
More or less freedom
One of maybe 5 things I know for sure in our wide weird universe is this: I don’t want LESS freedom. I want MORE.
More freedom, more expression, more expansion, more more more being OUT THERE.
Less locking down and hiding, less squashing and fitting into tight spaces, less covering up, fewer layers, less trying-to-look-good, less of all that work to feel safe because…
Well, let me pause here for a brief discussion about feeling safe.
Feeling safe usually means covering up, protecting, defending, or otherwise hiding my vulnerabilities well enough that I feel relatively secure no one will ever be able to get to them.
Being safe, on the other hand, means something totally different. Being safe means something like not having to hide anymore.
I am safe when I am free. Freedom from fear is perfect safety. But I don’t get freedom from fear by avoiding it, do I? I become free when I quit hiding and face my fears.
It turns out that feeling safe is not at all like being safe, in the same way that “watermelon flavor” is not at all the same as a real watermelon. The beautiful irony (poetic justice?) of it all is that to become safe, you have to venture out to where you feel most unsafe. Into the dark dangerous unpredictable waters of vulnerability.
Feeling safe is based on avoiding what you fear.
Being safe is based on seeking it out, facing it, and taking a step toward it.
(Doesn’t have to be a big step. In fact, I think small deliberate steps are more difficult. It’s easier to fling yourself off a cliff than to build a bridge into thin air, hoping you reach something on the other side.)
A reverse resolution action plan
Here’s what I’m doing instead of new year’s resolutions:
I’m thinking about the resolutions I would make if I were going to make resolutions.
I’m reversing them to find out what vulnerable parts of me I would really really really really really like to cover up a bit more.
Most likely, at this point, I’m regretting my decision to do this and definitely regretting my decision to tell other people about it, because now I have to do it. Ugh.
I’m making a decision about how I want to move toward freedom. How can I quit hiding? How can I let go of feeling safe?
I’m taking a small deliberate step toward the fear (aka toward freedom). Action, immediate if possible, because no decision is real until it’s acted upon. And because the longer I delay action, the more I doubt my decision.
How will you use today? As a marker, a milestone, an altar? Will you use it or let it slide by? Will you make resolutions or reverse them? Will you make pretend-decisions or real ones (meaning: make the decision, then take the action)? Will you focus on feeling safer or being safer? Will you hide from fear or claim your freedom? Will you contract or expand? Will you add more layers or peel some off? Will you—
You know what? That’s enough questions.
Happy new year!
It will be exactly what we make of it, friends. Let’s make it delicious.