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and the lack thereof
For most of my life observing the ticking over of the calendar year as a start of something new has felt arbitrary. It is arbitrary, of course, but what I mean is that it didn’t match the rhythm of my life in any meaningful way. I was a student until I was 29 so the start of the academic year was when things were new, when planning and goal-setting made the most sense.
New year resolution always felt weird and off-cycle, falling in the middle of the year’s slog rather than coming at a natural time for refocus. If I bothered making any resolutions at all, they were vague and not clearly actionable. Slowly in the almost fifteen years since I left school that has changed. Lacking a natural and obvious alternative start to the year, I have slowly come to understand the appeal of treating January as the start of a new cycle and taking stock then.
I have learned, too, to make clear goals with measurable outcomes. So at the end of the year I can look back and see whether I have achieved those goals.
Coming into 2022 there is a whole list of things that I could resolve. My sleep has unraveled over the course of the pandemic, and with it my ability to manage the pain and fatigue–a word that does not quite capture the nature of soul crushing exhaustion that I am greeted with each morning–of my fibromyalgia. There are things I can, and need to, do to help fix that. Exercise, diet, meditation, medical intervention. I could make a list of boxes to check off.
There are, too, things that I would like to accomplish around the house and the garden in the next year. Chaos that needs to be managed and coziness and order that I long to create. Again, I could make a clear list of those things.
Or I could lay out various hobby-related things I would like to accomplish. Each year I set a goal for the number of books to read. In recent years I have pushed myself to read within certain categories, a certain amount of non-fiction, a certain amount of poetry. I would like to write more this year. And, again, that is something I could easily put into a measurable metric. Set myself the goal of writing some number of poems and some other number of writing exercise, or pages of prose, or blog entries, or journal entries.
The possibilities are endless.
And that is how I intend to leave them.
I am entering 2022 frayed and exhausted. Anxious and lonely.
I cannot face goals right now. I cannot face things that need to be done (except, of course, the ones that truly need to be done). I cannot face the feeling of failure that comes with not being able to do the things that I hoped I would be able to do.
The truth is that I will likely work on all the things I mentioned above. But going into this new year I am trying to give myself space to stop grinding, to stop feeling as if I have to accomplish and accomplish and then accomplish more. I am giving myself permission to let myself do things as they feel good and back off from them as they do not.
I will build strength by moving my body as I am able and resting when I am not. I will write when I feel up for writing. I will read some books, without worrying too much about whether I am reading fast enough to hit my year-end quota. I will eat more vegetables, except for the days when I do not. I will try to reach out to the people I love. And I will forgive myself for the time that passes in between those contacts.
I do not feel like I can judge what this year will bring. I had hoped to enter this year less worried about the future than I was at the beginning of 2021. In some ways I am, and in some ways I am not. Slowly, existential dread gives way to a sort of dark acceptance of a world that will forevermore be different than what I stepped into 2020 expecting.
And so, I suppose, I resolve nothing more than to shepherd myself and my child into that unknown future as gracefully as I can.