The abiding ethos of the New Year is to gleefully leap forward- bidding the old year adieu, while revving up for the fresh one ahead. It is a narrative filled with robust enthusiasm, recalibrated resolve and reflective renewal. In the New Year, anything seems possible; this is the year we lose the weight or step up to the plate or have the epic breakthrough. We’ll go the distance this time, and it will be good.
This is the prevailing sentiment anyway.
But for some people, the turn of the year does not signify bold revival. It is just another lap around the track. It is less about possibility and more about endurance. These tender spirits are not hardhearted or negative, merely road worn. There can be many reasons for this. The New Year can often accentuate the goals that were not realized the year before. Sometimes there is a lingering hangover from a sad Christmas or the burden of dark challenges waiting ahead. Like Christmas, the New Year suggests a certain magic that does not always resonate for everyone. To these weary souls, I offer the following suggestions for going another round:
- Simplify. You don’t need to run around with your brain exploding. De-clutter. Say no. Get rid of excess thoughts and household items. Refrain from overcommitting and overthinking. Give yourself more time. Chill out. Dumb down.
- Stop holding space for people who never show up. In fact, screw the stupid fucktards who take you for granted and treat you badly. Take a giant step away from those who are unkind to you. Instead, hang out with people who adore you and make you laugh. Move towards the light, yo.
- Go outside as often as possible. Mother Nature (always) knows best.
- Give yourself a break. You don’t need to sell 10,000 e-books, or get a million followers or tour Europe with your band to be relevant. Your spirit is what defines you, not your accomplishments. Your beautiful heart is enough.
- Move your body. I believe that our body absorbs the overflow of our thoughts and feelings. It tries to work out things that we are unable to fix with our minds. It needs support and relief. Oxygen rocks. Endorphins are our friend. Sweat is righteous.
- Temper expectations. Let go of outcomes. Don’t fixate on how you think it should be. We’re not in control anyway. The trip gets real interesting when we don’t give a shit about how it all turns out.
- Explore small kindnesses. There’s plenty of trouble and suffering in this world. There are endless noble causes. It can get overwhelming sometimes. I say we start with small acts of kindness. Hold the door for someone. Let the guy in traffic go ahead of you. Take a deep breath and smile as you explain whatever for the umpteenth time to the dimwit in your life. I don’t fucking know if we can change the world. But I want to believe our tiniest gestures matter to someone.
- Step back from Facebook. OK, I get the irony. I’m probably posting this on Facebook. Still, it is a mindless vortex of stupid quizzes, outrage porn and relentless posts that sound like acceptance speeches. While I don’t dispute that there are cool and interesting things there, it is also filled with distracting drivel that steals from real time living and, if left unchecked, fucks with our perception. Lest I come across as sanctimonious, I totally own that I have contributed to the quagmire, especially with my incessant chatter about football. But I’ve also discovered an odd relief when I take breaks now and then. Sometimes the psyche needs less debris and more minimalism.
- Allow yourself simple pleasures. Enjoy them without judgment. It can be hard out there. We should seize whatever tiny bits of joy and comfort that we can. My simple pleasure is Madden for PlayStation. I could play for hours. My family gives me a lot of grief about it, but I don’t care. It makes me happy. And I sacked Tom Brady four times the other night. Boo-rah.
- Let your creativity roam unfettered. Follow it around. See what happens.
- Keep learning. Try new stuff. Be curious about other people. Ask questions. There is transcendence in the effort.
- Be brave. It’s really the only way through. Start with a small step (flirt with the cute barista), move on to a medium step (skinny dip with the neighbors) and advance to something really big (nominate yourself for queen of the universe). You’ve survived this far. So be the badass motherfucker that you are.
- What the world needs now is justice. Fight for it at every turn. You have absolutely nothing to lose.
For all we know, the New Year could be the last year. I suppose it’s best to hedge our bets accordingly. Impermanence forever lingers on the horizon. But for the here and now anyway, we’re still pumping. And the beauty is that there are a million different ways to do this. These are my ideas. Tell me yours.
I don’t know about other people, but when I wake up in the morning and put my shoes on, I think “Jesus Christ, now what?”
− Charles Bukowski