A little belatedly, I've come to the topic of New Year's resolutions. I'm not sure that I've ever actually made any, even though I have, like everyone else, succumbed to the hope that a new year could bring new habits or new successes. The whole process seemed doomed to failure, like starting a diet--the plans too grand, too detailed, too many. The closest I've come to resolutions was writing down a list of goals for a recent year, almost none of which were accomplished. I still feel a bit chastised when I come across that page in our New Year's Eve milestone book, and I've never done it since.
This year I felt particularly removed from the whole resolutionary effort. Part of my disconnect was the fog of illness, but part of it was a feeling of existential pointlessness that was plaguing me. Why write down a list of intentions that would only mock me later? At the new year or at any other time for that matter?
Still there was the hope, however unrecorded. The beginning of a new swing round the sun seemed to merit some attempt at reaching for better. I just didn't want to play the annual sucker again.
I had reached a new low in my feelings about the intention to change, but I also discovered out in the blogosphere a different approach to transformation in the new year: choosing one word that embodies what you hope to incorporate into your life as the year unfolds. More a mantra than a list to check off. That seemed more doable, but no word leaped to mind.
A little late I became sure of my word for 2011. I chose acceptance. Or maybe it chose me.
In the synchronistic way in which the universe sometimes nudges me, I found myself remembering the blissful moments of self-acceptance that I experienced as 2010 wound down; hearing statements in yoga videos about how life is an acceptance practice; watching a video by a life coach named Joy Tanksley in which she credited acceptance and gratitude for the life she had as being the key to moving forward into the life she wanted; and reading both Eckhart Tolle's unshakeable statement that if we aren't in a state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, then we are causing suffering to our self or others, and Barbara Sher's assertion that if we will only accept the passing of youth, then the middle of life can be amazing. So many messages coming at me seemed to say that instead of being in resistance to what is and working so hard to change me and my life, which I've been trying diligently to do for years, I should just accept who and how I am right now. Because just maybe it was quite good enough, if only I'd let it be.
I may have resisted the cliched urge to resolve, but I am now belatedly warm to the idea of a guiding word. I've found myself calling upon it many times already--and it's been maybe a week--because it applies in so many ways: acceptance of the delays and frustrations of every day life; acceptance of the blessings of my current life; acceptance of others for just who they are, doing the best they can; and yes, acceptance of myself when I prove over again that I'm imperfect in my own eyes.
I've still felt my usual upsets. I was a mite fussy over waiting 8 minutes just to get a spot at the gas pump, with people dashing in ahead of me, until I accepted the situation and let it go. I was about to descend into Loser-itis when I forgot an ingredient in three baking projects on the same day. Instead I accepted that I was human and having one of those days. And last Thursday's restorative micro-vacation? Acceptance at work. There was definitely a lot less suffering that night.
Other than the versatility of the word of the year idea, I love it's simplicity. It's the mono tasking version of New Year's resolutions. I don't have to force change on six fronts. I have only one kinder, gentler aim for this year--a state that by definition is open, yielding, unperturbed, trusting, and serene. This tight bowstring of a detail person could use a healthy dose of all of those. Any of them would beat another multitudinous list of musts that just becomes a flagellation scourge later.
It can be so very hard to accept (that word again) that we must be and begin where we are right now, that the moment at hand is the only one assured us, and that both are enough. If that kind of acceptance is all I achieve this year, it will suffice--no matter when I started.