It’s funny how time changes our perspective. When I was young, New Year’s Eve was typically a bit of a downer. I’d go inward and review all the things that had not happened that year, all the goals I’d set and then left there, dusty and unaccomplished, in a dark corner.
I had not learned to play guitar; I had not yet completed that correspondence course; I hadn’t decided on a suitable career; I hadn’t lost weight or gained popularity; I hadn’t found adventure, love or even much romance. I’d never be a writer and I’d never have a satisfying job. Of these things I was certain, and I couldn’t be dissuaded from following my own miserable mindset.
As the clock struck midnight and being unable to sink any lower into self-pity, I’d unconvincingly bolster myself. I’d begin grasping frantically at new goals, new ideas, and new adventures that I could – no, that I would – make happen.
I would finish that course; I would write a book; I would enroll (again) in university; I’d exercise and eat right; I’d buy a guitar; I’d skydive with my new love; I’d meet people and make a bazillion friends; I’d study to be an astronaut who trains horses and rides the intergalactic rodeo circuit…
By the end of the night and by the time I was done buoying myself up, I was left feeling overwhelmed and deflated, a bit dizzy, and chronically unsuccessful.
Years have passed and my outlook has changed. Although I still crave the adventure and notoriety of the intergalactic rodeo circuit (who doesn’t?) I’ve learned that there are greater things than goals and accomplishments. That’s not to say that I haven’t done some rewarding things. It’s been great to have those opportunities, but in accomplishing goals I’ve learned that accomplishments aren’t what fill me up. Like salty potato chips, accomplishments leave me wanting more. The satisfaction is short lived.
It’s gratitude and loving others that has finally satisfied me. And so this New Year’s Eve, I think of all that hasn’t happened to me and that I haven’t done. I haven’t undergone any chemotherapy or radiation treatments; I haven’t broken a bone or anyone’s heart; I haven’t been injured in a car crash or lost anyone I love to an illness; I haven’t lost my job or lost a limb or lost a child; I haven’t lost my mind or lost my mobility; I haven’t contracted Hepatitis B, been kidnapped or murdered.
For now, I am safe and sound, and I’m aware that everything changes and that others have not been as fortunate this past year. It’s not enough for me to feel lucky to have dodged a few of life’s inevitable bullets.
For my gratitude to expand into love, I remember those who did suffer a death, a loss, a diagnosis, a hospital stay, a life sentence, and I wish them well. It’s not resolving for the future or reviewing the past, that will make it a happy New Year for me. Thankfulness for what I have and trying to see beyond my own desires is what will satisfy my heart this New Year’s Eve.
I wish you health and happiness in 2018.