I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Not formal ones, anyway, either aloud or written. My mind, however, reels from the possibilities for personal growth and betterment of the world, but I astutely avoid committing change to print. When I was Catholic, I had some success with Lent as a time for change and successfully started flossing regularly after applying myself during this season of repentance and abstinence. One change to make, six weeks to establish a habit. It worked for me.
Being a bit of a curmudgeon regarding detail and personal perfection, listing my promises for the new year (a point which seems rather arbitrary to me, but that’s another post), seemed a sure ticket to failure. And I really despise personal failure. When the resolutions remain nebulous in my head, failure seems further away. If I never really committed to X, Y, and Z, can I really fail to do them?
Yes. Nine days into a new year, I have yet to start writing seriously and regularly, read the back issues of American Family Practice journal (and submit the quizzes for continuing medical education credits), actually practice a spiritual practice daily, or clean my cupboards and pantry. I’ve settled issues with children in less than spirit-respecting ways, nibbled and noshed when not hungry, and, despite Lenten promises a decade old, failed to floss regularly. And I feel the failures deeply.
Fortunately, I’m making significant progress staying in the moment. This moment, as my fingers type these words, is the only moment I have. When I stew over my many perceived failures or anticipate tomorrow being a more productive/loving/dental hygiene minded day, I miss now. Now is when I have some quiet time to write. Now is when I can respond to the seemingly endless interruptions from kids in a way that respects their essence while still honoring mine. Now I can take a breath, then another, then another, feeling my breath rise and fall. In this moment, for this moment, I can be in the Now, fully experiencing life as I live it. No revisions of the past (that can’t be made in reality) and now promises for tomorrow (what can we truly promise about the future?).