I started this blog over 12 years ago with my first blog post stating my three big goals. At the time, I wanted to write a book, run a marathon, and join the Peace Corps. I am working on a draft of my first book with no publishing deal (yet), I ran a marathon over seven years ago and want to run more of them, and long ago decided the Peace Corps was not for me, partly to do with my concerns about unqualified people trying to solve big problems and my absolute hatred of white saviorism (look this up, if you’re unsure of the term and its meaning).
Over the years, I have announced my big goals, resolutions, and intentions, oftentimes on this blog. It might have been a big announcement (to me) in the optimism of the new year or a statement of my intentions at the beginning of the summer, or just an attempt to forge a new path in the midst of my own stumbling. However, lately I have been rethinking those big (it’s all a matter of perspective and scale) announcements before they have come to fruition. Over the years I have read several articles, essays, and blogs about the power of doing the opposite: either not making any announcement at all, or waiting until the act of completion before sharing the desire.
I think both approaches can work, depending upon your mindset and the goal/resolution/intention. For me, right now, though, I am tired of announcing things and then failing at attaining the goal, or still being in the midst of the work, the pursuit. I am trying things a bit differently this year, this cycle, this go-round. There is something to the accountability of one. There is something to picking your own timeframe, your own starting point.
A few years ago, I was working at a food co-op, and I remember feeling relief after Christmas had passed, because then I could just say “Happy New Year” and not worry about offending someone or forgetting a tradition. Sure enough, in those waning days of the old year while waiting for the new one, I offended someone. I finished bagging the produce and swung them around the counter to put them in the cart, and called out cheerfully, “Happy New Year!” The woman clad in an oversized winter coat, hunched over her cart full of bags of groceries muttered, her words hanging out of her mouth as she passed, “It’s not a new year; it’s arbitrary. The new year in the biological and astrological new year is in March.” I was a bit shocked, and responded silently with a goodbye wave.
Later that night, on the bus ride home, I reflected on the customer’s slightly offended pronouncement “It’s not a new year, it’s arbitrary. . . ” At first, I was perplexed, then slightly offended that someone didn’t take my casual salutation as it was intended, for good wishes for the so-called new year. Just as I pulled the cord for the bell for my stop to get off the bus, I realized it wasn’t worth being offended, and to instead take what the person offered as insight. In the less than half mile walk home, relatively late in the evening, I thought about the idea that the new year was arbitrary. I remembered from my college astronomy class, that the astrological new year began with the first point of Aries, which is right at the vernal equinox, the beginning of spring. We often think of the advent of spring as a sign of beginning, rebirth, and the essence of a breath of fresh air. This is part of the reason for spring cleaning, a chance to begin anew. This is when animals mate and the young are born.
By the time I got home that night, I realized that I felt relief, rather than offense at the customer’s pronouncement that the new year was arbitrary. I have in fact celebrated the new year after my birthday in July, or even made significance of my “half birthday” on January 7, giving myself some hang-time between the holidays and the first week of the new year. I have also celebrated the arrival of spring with the feeling that new is upon us. I have relished the start of a new school year in the late summer or early fall with newly sharpened pencils and fresh notebooks. When you consider this, anytime can be a good time to set a new goal or to take up a new direction.
We have now passed my half birthday, and that so-called grace of the early new year. I am in the midst of a big personal revolution, and at the beginning of a few more.
It feels lovely to keep my goals and resolutions close to my heart. I appreciate the silence that accompanies these new and old, big and medium goals. I like them just settling into my mind and marrow as I keep moving. I love that no one necessiarly knows what I’m working toward.
This time feels different. When I make the steps, no one is cheering me on. Instead, it’s my own momentum, or lack thereof, that is propelling me forward or not. It helps to keep my intenions close at hand. Now, if I fail, or change my mind, no one really knows but me.
There is beauty in the silence of a new pursuit. There is also wonder at choosing a new direction in the middle of a random Wednesday. You can pick any moment for reinventing your life. There is also something lovely about deciding to rescind the whole idea of new year, new you. You are beautiful, just as you are, right where you are.