To Begin . . .


As I stand at the threshold of a new year, I contemplate what it represents – the portal to an open road of fresh starts, a chance to “get it right” this time. Resolutions seem to have fallen out of fashion, being replaced with intentions. Perhaps we’re making intentions now because we’ve tried and failed at resolutions and an intention is softer, less of a commitment. It doesn’t feel as much of a failure if we don’t follow through on an intention, it was just an attempt after all.

I’m always interested in how people approach a change, which a new year represents. Some leap through the metaphorical door with wild abandon, loving the newness. They see endless possibilities and the chance to leave all the messiness of the old behind. Some resist change, scuffing their shoes and stirring up dirt as they are dragged through the door. Most of us are probably a combination, approaching change with cautious optimism.

I love the idea of a new beginning and all the unsullied possibilities it represents. This will be the year I cut out sugar for good and stick to a regular exercise routine. This year I really will relearn Russian. I’m absolutely going to start mediating everyday again – why did I ever stop, anyway? It all feels so possible until I get sick (probably from all the sugar I said I wasn’t going to eat). Or I have an immediate deadline, so I miss a meditation, then another, then I almost forget I ever used to meditate at all.

The idea of something is so much easier than the reality. Several years ago, I attended an Artist’s Way group. We all had grand dreams and good intentions. One day I said, “I’ve written about five best sellers. In my head.” Everyone nodded in agreement. “Yep, everything’s done but the doing,” someone else chimed in.

Everything’s done but the doing.

That’s why resolutions fly out the window. They require doing. I struggle with this idea of doing. I’ve always seen myself as a doer. I can get a lot done if it’s something I have to do, or really want to do. I strive for the end result or the immediate gratification, but struggle with the day in day out never eating sugar again for the rest of my life commitment. In the last few years I’ve thought a lot about doing versus being. We’re human beings after all, not human doings. Wouldn’t I be more authentic and happier if I were just being and not doing?

Yet a nagging voice always tells me I’m making excuses so I don’t have to do what I don’t want to. It tells me I’m letting myself off the hook and calling it enlightenment. I don’t like that voice. It’s the voice that also tells me my efforts aren’t good enough. I’m not good enough. It’s the voice of fear and condemnation.

So as I stand at the threshold of this new year, my foot poised to take the first step on the road ahead, I know I won’t get it right all the time. I will set my intentions (yes, intentions not resolutions), but I will also get sick, get behind, and get tired of following through. It will be a year up ups and downs, good times and bad, success and failure. Some days will be running full speed ahead, others will be standing still, and some will feel like going backward. How do I know? Because it always is.