Every Day Can Be New Year’s Day

Happy new year, Nifty readers, and welcome to the year 2016!

Like many of you, I’ve been reflecting on the year that has just passed and wondering what resolutions, if any, I should attempt to keep over the next 365 days (it’s a leap year so there are still 365 days left after today–bonus day! Yippee!). My resolutions, if I were to make any, would be fairly similar to the resolutions I had last year, and the year before (be kind, write more, keep my apartment tidy and organized). They’re good goals to try for and I’ll probably just keep working at them but to be honest I’m not sure about this whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing anymore.

January 1 is just an arbitrary day–it isn’t even the start of the new year for every religion, or every culture. It’s just a marker, one 24-hour point on the 940 million-km elliptical trail that is our 365.25-day journey around the sun. Just one point, out of an infinitesimal number of possible points. Any day on that orbit could be important, and any tiny millisecond could have more significance than days or months or even years of living so far.

It’s great to start your new life, or new good habit, or new hobby, on January 1 if that’s the day you decide to do it. But every other day is just as good, and any day can be an important one, a milestone day. Any day can be a day by which you count out your life. For example, I can count a particular facet of my life from the day I met my husband, or from our first date, or the day we moved in together, or from the day we got engaged, or the day we were married. I can count different journeys in my life from the day I began at my current job, or the day I started my masters degree. I can pull back further, and count from the day I moved to BC, or the day I was finally free of a particularly toxic relationship for good, or the day I began university, or the day I met my best friend. I can count from the day of my birth if I want to–or any other day.

2016-yearly-calendar-landscape-10

Behold 2016–every day’s potentially a great one!

What I’m saying is that any and every day is a perfect day to start your new life, or to leave behind something that is hurting you, or to try something you’ve never tried before. Any and every day could be the day that something wonderful happens–that some new person or opportunity enters your life. You don’t need to wait for January 1 to become sober, you don’t need to wait for Valentine’s Day to tell your partner you love them. You don’t need to wait for the end of the week, end of the month, end of the semester, etc. to try that new thing or to get back to that great hobby you really enjoy.

Having an aspiration or seeking happiness or becoming a better person is not about January 1. It’s about every single day you ever have for the rest of your life, whether you have a lot of days left or a comparative few. Any day could be the start of something amazing, and if you find that you have not kept to your resolutions as you would have liked, any day is a perfect day to start trying again.

Kindness (My New Year’s Resolution)

I have noticed a hardness.

I have noticed a hardness in the way I speak about people, and the way I think about them.

I have noticed that while in many ways I am accepting, or at least tolerant, of difference (and hopefully occasionally downright welcoming of it), there is a hardness there too. Human weakness, which should inspire my compassion, is often met with indignation and impatience instead.

I have noticed more and more a desire to turn off and tune out. I have noticed that this is not so I can embrace the world beyond the screen but instead so that I can hide from it. I am intelligent and educated enough to understand that the lifestyle systems I am a part of tacitly permit suffering (human and ecological) and I am using this same capacity for reason to try to justify it.

I have noticed that it is hard to forgive.

I have noticed that everyone seems to be shooting or bombing or beheading each other all the time and at a certain point a human death becomes just another one on the pile as long as it’s not in my backyard.

I have noticed an insufficient presence of goodwill in many of my undertakings.

I have noticed that it is much easier, and often pleasurable, to complain.

I have noticed a pettiness, and a need to feel superior.

I have noticed all this can exist in my character, defiantly, almost gloatingly, even as I feel exceptionally fortunate for my myriad blessings and wish to be more deserving of them.

And I have doubts. Doubts in my conception of myself as a good person. Doubts in my desire to have children (why bring them into this world? Why do we need more witnesses for the apocalypse we’re actively unleashing?). Doubts in my conception of my own spirituality and philosophy and what I consider to be true, good, and worthwhile.

And there is, sometimes, an emptiness.

Perhaps my heart felt a bad wind rising and squirreled itself away and it’s under a tree somewhere, in amongst the roots, and it’s holding its breath and listening to each groan as the tree swings back and forth, caught between resisting and letting go and achieving neither end.

Perhaps I am the tree, boughs and branches becoming stiffer the older I get, already firmly rooted in my opinions and beliefs and ways whether the soil will hold or not. Perhaps it’s just that I’m not as good at swaying with the breeze as I used to be. And now I’m waking with every creak. Shaking with every storm. Mourning every leaf that withers and falls, because it happens too fast now, far too fast, and is it just me or are the seasons different than they used to be?

And so–kindness.

For me, goodness will not be found in perfection. I will never be without my flaws (in fact, if I am honest with myself, I find them interesting most of the time). Perfection is paralyzing. It’s all-or-nothing. It is not in my grasp.

But kindness is. I would say it’s not that hard to be kind, but that’s not always true. Sometimes kindness is difficult. Still, kindness does not require of me any resource or special capacity that I don’t already have. Someone who is poor can be just as kind as someone who is rich. The powerless can be kind, as well as the powerful. The foolish can be as kind as the wise. Kindness does not need the light to survive–it can be found in the darkest of places or the darkest of times.

And the spirit of kindness can be found even in those beings who are, like me, imperfect.

And so I have found my New Year’s Resolution for the year ahead; just a small one:

I want to be kind.

Photo: Brayden McCluskey

Photo: Brayden McCluskey