Hello, New Year. I see you — all blank and spacious and full of promise. You make me look so good.
But, let’s be honest. I’ve promised my way through so many of you that I don’t trust this feeling anymore. My staying power rarely matches the initial fervor of my intentions, and I end up looking like crap.
It’s not that I don’t have good goals. It’s just that every year, the priorities that were so clear in my clean, first day…I don’t know, they just get eclipsed by — life. Rationalizations take over. Excuses. Reasons. And because I never say my resolutions out loud to anyone, no one is the wiser when I don’t keep them. So I don’t trust it when I think, “This year, for real, I’m going to (fill in the blank).”
Only here I am feeling that same fervor, wanting to make promises again. And here I am with that seasoned feeling of distrust. What to do?
After sitting with it for a couple weeks, a sweet ritual has come to me: “The Rose and the Rock.”
Today, I will buy a rose and bring it home. I will appreciate its beauty even though know for certain it will die soon, no matter how well I care for it. This rose represents the feelings I have, as I make my promises regarding the New Year. The temptation is to discount these feelings because they fade. But I know better now. These feelings are important. They are like a match to kindling; a crucial component to any commitment. Without it, the fire would never jump up into the logs. Without it, I would never make it to the next step. Which is the rock.
I have a collection of small white rocks, and a black permanent marker. With a measured mind and a tender heart, I will choose a few promises for this year. Each promise will live on its own rock. For instance, I want to have completed the second draft of a book I’ve written so on one rock I will write “Book.” And for the daily yoga practice I want to reestablish, I will write “Yoga” on another rock. These rocks represent what I will do regardless of how I feel about it in the moment. They represent what I will do after the initial fervor has died down and I don’t care anymore like I used to.
I will tend to the rose as mindfully as possible while she lasts. And I will keep the rocks in my pocket always. This way, I can honor the dedication felt at the beginning of any good endeavor — and I can honor the discipline required to bring any good endeavor to fruition.
One last note, perhaps the most important: I do plan to fail a little. I plan to execute these promises imperfectly. And I plan to get right back in the game, every time I fumble. All the way to the end.
May our fervor for new beginnings hold hands with a tolerance for tedium, so we can all manifest our most worthy intentions.