Sunday, January 2, 2011

Keep On Keepin On

I can tell it is the New Year. Aside from the ritual of taking down holiday decorations and a small anxious desire for school to go back into session, there’s one major tell-tale sign: the proliferation of personal improvement ads.

Like budding trees in the springtime, the beginning of the year provides a plethora of reminders that it is time to take a personal inventory and whittle away at that we own that is less than desirable. If I take this pill, I can be in a better mood, detoxify my system, or shed those unwanted pounds.

If I call this guy, I can improve my finances, own real estate, or learn the secrets of getting a perfect physique in 90 days.

I can quit smoking, drinking, drugging, arguing with my kids, teach my baby to read, and go back to school.

I am emphatically encouraged to emerge from the chrysalis of last year’s drudgery into the beautiful butterfly I am destined to become...this month.

Eagerly I listen. I critically examine my attributes and lack thereof assessing what I need to keep, and what I need to improve upon. It is January 2nd. I am already a day late. Am I a loser already?

In this onslaught of suggestions of how my life can improve, lies the paradox of an equal amount of articles of why resolutions fail. Too much, too lofty, too quick. We are captivated and enchanted by a couple months of lights and mistletoe, fun and frivolity, and then like at 2:00 am in a pub, the lights come on, we are told to stop, and go home.

Of course it will be hard even with the noblest of intentions to make major life changes this time of year. We go from a season of indulgence, self satisfaction, giving, abundance, and festivity to immediately tear down decorations, a cold season of grey skies (here in the Midwest), holiday credit card bills, and then are expected to proclaim, then live up to, stopping things we have done habitually mainly because they make us feel good.

No sir, I don’t like it. It is hard enough for me to write the correct date on my checks in the New Year let alone stop eating what I enjoy, get more rest and exercise, upgrade to “better behavior 2.0”, reboot, and act as if it is easy, or at least enjoyable. It is like driving along the freeway at sixty miles and hour and noticing your exit then slamming your car into reverse trying to make it safely to your next destination. Not good for cars or humans.

I do not believe the New Year is like an Etch-a-Sketch. It is not a simple shake of the calendar and then we start over. If it were that simple, why wait for 364 days to pass before using that wonderful do-over? Why let a full year pass before deciding we could use a new blank sheet? Do we also need to shake it to make then entire past disappear? Sometimes we simply need a little White Out to mask a few mistakes to make the text read better.

Perhaps before considering resolutions we should examine what went well in the previous year? Let’s do more of THAT stuff! Perhaps make habits out of serendipity. If we spent more time focusing on some of what we do right and not so much that our jeans don’t fit like they used to, we would embellish the skills that would allow us the skill sets to achieve many more of the things we desire.

I like to look at life as if it had a “batting average”. As in baseball, it takes a number of times at bat to assess where our stats lie. Perfection is not so much praised as consistency of getting the hits. Of course we will swing and miss. It makes the home runs that much more fun to celebrate. It is the possibility of a strike out that hones our competitive spirit.

Personally I reflect this time of year “categorically.” I try to look at global attributes that I would like to examine in more forensic depth in the upcoming year. This examination requires time, research and rhythm. There is no way I can incorporate lasting changes into my life without practice and patience. It took a lot of the negative habits I may wish to eradicate a long time to erode their way into a habitual pattern. I must therefore offer the same amount of dedication and tenacity in replacing them. I am still busy making excuses in January!

I have in the past used categories such as “expanding my knowledge”, “improving my spiritual awareness”, “stabilizing my health”, “developing greater patience”, and I will often revisit those yearly but with just different amount of emphasis.

This year I am dedicating a larger amount of the pie to “balance.” I have a tendency to obsess or attach to one thing in my life often times at the detriment of another. As a farmer will plant many seeds, all needing different amounts of attention, water, nourishment, and care, he still plants with the intent to harvest all to better feed him and others. His attention and routines are stable and reliable and fluctuate to the ongoing needs of his crops.

I have many seeds planted now. I cannot let one suffer as I tend to another. I must have balance to have bounty. As the farmer weathers the seasons, the droughts, the rains, and adjusts his routines to the needs of his seedlings, so must I. It is another year, but it is also another day. In my goal to improve my life’s balance, I will simply keep on keepin’ on. By spring I should have some good plants growing.


Dante's Voice said...

keep on keeping on was a favourite saying of my Gran's, how right she was!

ladaisi said...


A terrific post. I find at this time of year I begin feeling frantic -quick! One last year to prove my worth before I'm old and die! Or something to that effect (I'm only 24, so I tend to get over-dramatic).

Which is why I definitely agree with your tribute to balance. Humans should learn to be more patient with themselves (which is not to say we should become lazy - just accepting of the fact that we are, after all, only human).

It's kind of a relief, actually.

- Lauren

Ladaisi Blog

Mansi said...

Exactly my thoughts! Why wait if you really want to change? This is what I'd written in the last week of December:

Have a happy, wholesome 2011, Tony :-)