I like the idea of New Year's- I celebrate it whenever I can. The Pagan New Year starts on November 1st; the New Year as far as the Earth itself is concerned starts in the Spring. Then you've got Rosh Hashana, and Ramadan. Chinese New Year comes to California when the Magnolia trees flower in February in the San Francisco Bay Area. So many chances to start over, to start fresh. Isn't it great?
But January 1st is the only time that I really get into Resolutions. And I have screwed them up enthusiastically, year after year. I've made Giant Resolutions, Monumental Propositions to re-work the entire fabric of my life. It's so tempting for me to want to look at myself like someone that needs a whole lot of fixing.
This year I thought about the entire page I'd filled in my journal last New Years. And I know I didn't do half of the things on the list, except for "Quit My Day Job"-whoot! whoot!- which, by the way, has been on the List for at least a decade.
So I kind of lost my verve for the very act of Resolving. I didn't put pen to paper. I just let it be. But I did mourn some of the things that have been on the Resolutions list forever... three things in particular.
Stretch every day. Write every day. Play music every day.
Sounds easy, right? I know. That's why it drives me so crazy that I can't seem to do these things.
Then I had dinner with my good friend Celeste just after Christmas. I was visiting my parents, so I took the BART train into Berkeley and we met up at Long Life Veggie House, where we used to go when we were in college. It was almost surreal to be back there again- Celeste lives a thousand miles away these days. The tea tasted exactly the same.
I casually mentioned that I wanted to try to write every day, but I needed something or someone to hold me to it. "Just 15 minutes a day", I sighed. "But I can't do it on my own."
Turns out Celeste had had the same freaking Resolution on her list, full of good intentions but utterly lacking in follow-through, for years.
Oh my God, that was so easy!
11 days into this fresh and lovely New Year, and I haven't dropped the ball yet. That is saying something.
Come to find out, that the first "Reasonable Resolution" (Celeste's words), with the help of the kitchen timer, paved the way for the other two on my list. I have been stretching and playing music for 15 minutes a day. 15 minutes, no rules, no regulations, just doing the actions.... it seems so miniscule. You just can't talk yourself out of it.
To celebrate, I am going to share with you a short story that I found when I was visiting my parents. I wrote it when I was 9. I was way into horses. Somehow, I think I enjoy this writing style even more than what the one I use now. It seems more polished, more... I dunno, writerly. Maybe I'll get back there one day.
Snuggles, The Love Horse
In a land far away, where the lush, rolling hills are covered with lilies that bloom at the first ray of dawn, there lived a dark grey stallion and a pink-as-sunset mare. They lived in peace at the foot of a hill by a gurgling brook.
This land was really a rather big island, but the stallion wished to believe that this many hundred miles from the shore isle was part of the closest mainland, Hawaii. But the small family lived in happiness, though always trying to think of a perfect name for the island.
One day the grey stallion, whose name was Royal, began a small journey around the outskirts of the beaches, cliffs, and rocks on the shoreline. Royal and his mare, Elka, steadily walked along. The shoreline had changed from winter storms, and a lot of kelp had been washed on the beach. At one beach along the way Royal stopped, sniffing the air questioningly. Suddenly he gave a command Elka had never heard before. Royal stamped his hoof. This meant 'danger, wolves'. Elka stood paralyzed. Her heart was a jet, going faster and faster. There lay a wounded otter, straight in the bloodthirsty wolves' path.
Royal felt the same as Elka but a bit braver. Up they jumped, two in the form of one. Only courage bonded them. As she had thought, Royal did not kill the fiery-eyed wolves. Instead, he went straight for the otter, picked him up and threw him up, scaring Elka very much, but she kept on going.
Suddenly the earth swallowed them up, and they were sitting in front of a throne. Elka gasped. Snuggles, the love horse, was sitting right on the throne! "You have learned the secret of life. You have won our game. You have won..." Elka carefully straightened her crown and looked down upon her ruffled dress as they went back to Courage, her island, her home, at last.
Neil Armstrong Elementary