Happy New Year!
I can’t help it. I’ll always think of September as the start of a new year. Even at my age, I still love a thermos, a sweater, and a fresh stash of #2 pencils right about now.
And also— New Year’s Resolutions!
Some people hate resolutions, but I love them.
Even if they don’t stick, they almost always bring me closer to where I want to be, if only in tiny ways. One resolution to cut out all sugar from my diet resulted only in my cutting out all sugar from my coffee, but that little habit has stuck like glue and I’m damn proud of it.
Baby steps, people.
The nice thing about making new year’s resolutions in September, is that you can ride the wave of back-to-school energy that’s got everyone buzzed, and that can give your new habit some lift-off. Also, it’s kind of like taking it for a test drive before Classic New
Year’s, on January 1st. If you’re doing pretty well at your resolution come January, I say just slap that sucker up on your status update New Year’s day and proceed to crush it!
If, however, you are failing (as I did with my resolution to keep my inbox clear), then you can just quietly sweep that one aside and do the thing where you resolve write thank you notes or run a half marathon.
As for me, I only have one resolution for the coming year:
I resolve to loosen my grip.
I like that it’s short and snappy so I’ll remember it. It’s also kind of relaxing when I say it to myself, so it can double as a mantra for my daily meditation (which was my New Year’s resolution for last year, and probably the five years before that).
This new resolution has been a long time coming, let me tell you.
I’m a planner, and I’m not super chill about those plans changing. Because of this, I get a lot of shit done, but I also miss out on the spontaneous joys, on account of the anal-retentive side of my nature. People are often surprised when I describe myself that way, maybe due to the fact that I have a filthy mouth and a very casual wardrobe, but trust me, I can be one rigid lady.
Last week I got a text from someone I really like, but don’t know that well, saying she had to go to Target and pick up a few things and would I like to join her, just for the hell of it.
It was a totally retro moment!
She might as well have asked to borrow a cup of sugar or join her for a hand of Bridge and a Virginia Slim.
I stared at her text message and thought about a response, and the fact that I had my day pretty much nailed down already.
Which reminds me, as things often do, of an Ethel Merman quote.
At the last dress rehearsal of every Broadway production she was in, she would announce to cast and crew, “Call me Miss Birds Eye, the show is frozen.”
Preach, Ms. Merman!
Each Sunday, after I complete my To-Do list and planning ritual (which is almost a sacrament to control freaks like me), I close my beloved date book, satisfied that all The Things will get done, that no time will fall between the cracks, ergo, I will never die.
Or something like that.
But somehow the charm of this young woman’s invitation melted my frosty grip, just enough. I knew that anyone who would suggest such a madcap scheme as running out to Target together would probably make a good friend.
So I did this to my Saturday list:
Pay bills, fill out insurance forms, get dog food, fix leaking hose, pick up glasses
and said, “Sure, let’s go.”
And that, reader, is how I managed to have an unexpectedly fun morning, make a new friend, and buy a box of jumbo paperclips, which no one needs but which make me weirdly happy.
In fact, I got so much happiness mileage out of allowing myself to take a little detour in my day, that I decided I want to do it more often. Friendships, passions, even solitude, need and deserve a little space.
When I was a kid, I used to catch lightening bugs in jars, poking holes in the tops with an ice-pick, to let air in so they would live until I could set them free the next morning (or until I could smash them onto my fingers and earlobes to make glowing jewelry. Sorry, lightening bugs, and God).
In the coming year, I will try to remember to take an ice-pick to my carefully planned days.
To always let in a little air,
so the unexpected