Just yesterday I renounced New Year’s resolutions and goal-making in general, but it’s been shown that creating New Year’s goals is a great start to achieving them (and not setting goals is a surefire way to miss the mark entirely). I’m still sticking to my systems, but there are a number of outcomes I’m aiming at in 2016.
New Year’s approaches and with it comes the end of another year–and the final verdict on the New Year’s resolutions we all made twelve months ago. Was this year a success, or will it be enshrined in failure forever?
I’ve written a lot about New Year’s resolutions and goal-setting in the six years I’ve been blogging, but this year, I’m telling my goals goodbye–and here’s why.
National Novel Writing Month. If I’ve written about it once, I’ve written about it a hundred times (or at least annually since I began blogging). It’s the one time each year I allow my writing to take center stage (how’s that for mixing metaphors?)–often, though reluctantly, at the expense of my other obligations. So far, I’ve won NaNoWriMo every year.
And this year will make ten consecutive wins. If I manage to make it.
The beginning of this week brought the beginning of a new year: Rosh HaShanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, began on Monday. I had in mind a few thoughts I wanted to share, and every intention of doing so on Tuesday.
Then on a Monday a student at NC State completed suicide, and on Tuesday I had homework, and on Tuesday night I fought to finish my homework due Wednesday.
So in the midst of all these things, I never even realized I hadn’t welcomed the new year on my blog, and being on campus, in classes, the most I had been able to do to celebrate this occasion was share some apples and honey with others in the community. On Monday, a fellow math student had shared challah in the graduate lounge. That had made my day.
The truth is, death is a great occasion to think about life, and a new year is a great occasion to think about what we’re doing with our lives. So, naturally, I did.
We all (probably) know the abbreviation tl;dr, meaning “too long; didn’t read.” This last week inspired another: tb;dw, meaning “too busy, didn’t write.” It’s a habitual occurrence when classes begin, but it’s a habit I want to break.
The truth is, when I decided somewhat arbitrarily to make Mondays and Thursdays my Writingwolf days, I had no idea that I would have homework due every week on Tuesdays and Fridays. It’s a match made in priorities hell: either I maintain my blog (part of my overall vision and one way of staying sane), or I commit myself to excelling on homework (a different part of my overall vision and another important part of staying sane).
Clearly, you can see my predicament.
Since I can’t change my homework schedule, it means I can only change my posting habits. At the moment, I’m thinking I’m going to switch it up so I blog on Tuesdays and Fridays, and then share poems/stories/etc. on Silent Sol Wednesdays and Saturdays.
But it’s a process. In fact, as we speak I’m in the process of creating new processes–I’ve done away with making goals for myself (hence why I haven’t written a piece on my goal progress in a while), instead attempting to create daily habits that will help me achieve the long-term outcomes I want to realize. Goals, in a way, are a recipe for failure, whereas processes appear far more forgiving. But before I report on my progress and how it’s working for me, I need to keep up with it long enough to see some burgeoning results.
So my post on goals vs. systems is forthcoming, I promise.
In the meantime (which, pausing to reflect, literally means the midpoint between now and some unspecified future moment), I’m going to try this new schedule and hope it helps.
I’d like to say I’ve been thinking all day about what I would share with you. But I didn’t.
Instead I pulled myself out of bed at sunrise, walked a mile to class, and was promptly told it was cancelled. I went to my second class, finished some computer work, went to my next class (in which we discussed the sameness of donuts and coffee cups), had lunch and studied with a friend, went to a work meeting, had dinner, and went to my last class.
Then, when I got home, I balanced my check book.
It was a thoroughly typical day, but this is not a typical post.
Two weeks ago I posted about my summer goals, but since then I’ve managed to make as little progress as could possibly be defined (a rather flowery way of saying I’ve done nothing). Part of me wants to kick back and say I don’t care, because hasn’t it been a stressful year and don’t I deserve a break? But the better part of me feels bored and knows, deep down, I do want to accomplish the things I’ve set out to do.
It’s just getting there that isn’t always easy.
So it’s time I stop for a second, hit the pause button, and take a moment to restart.
This post has been in progress for more than two weeks. The title and idea came about even further back than that. It’s hard to trace the timeline of something ethereal: does it come into existence when the audience sees it, or when the idea is conceived?
Trifling nonsense aside, this has been a trying semester–for a myriad of reasons, perhaps my hardest yet–and words have at last come to challenge me. They stick to my tongue like tar and won’t say what I mean to say–or I don’t want to say what I really mean.
It’s like Alice all over again, but then, wasn’t that what I wanted to be? The mathematician-turned-writer-does-both like Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll himself? A moot point. A tangent. A space without definition, to be called “obvious” and “left for the reader to prove.”
What I mean to say is I’m exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I need recovery. This is perhaps the closest I’ll get.
Three days ago I stood at security in the Mexico City airport. I hugged my hub-to-be and he held me more tightly than he ever has before. I felt the tears touching the back of my eyes, I felt the oceans rising beneath the moon, the highest tide willing and waiting to crash. I felt sheets of ice threaten to crush my heart, felt waves of magma pulse through my veins. I felt his arms tracing the contours of my body. I felt mine clenched around his body, tight enough to crack his ribcage and break through this hardened exterior.
I felt in love.
And three days ago, as we parted, kissed one last time, hugged again–because one can never be enough–our met eyes, smiled, assured each other (as we always do) that we’ll make it through this, that soon we’ll be together, that soon we’ll never have to say goodbye again. Then we waved, blew kisses, mouthed “I love you” until we passed from each other’s sight. My heart trembled like tectonic plates. My body shook like the earth wobbling on its axis, drawn around the sun in a cosmic whirlwind of gravity and dark energy.
I felt in love.
And three nights ago I crawled into my bed. I shivered beneath the sheets. So cold. I clutched my comforter, but there was no comfort: it could only remind me how empty my arms were, how his body was not sewn to mine. I awoke wondering where he was; I hit the snooze button again and again, because that’s what we do, because every time I turn off the alarm, we have another moment with each other–we have another moment free from the world, another moment to share for ourselves, to love and be loved.
I felt in love.
And the night before last, as the seconds ticked away on New Year’s Eve, I wrote to him: I am kissing you in my heart right now. And I wondered, what’s so big about the New Year? Why do we glorify January first? Why do we say this is the time to make life right? To make resolutions? To make goals? Why only now–why only now?
I am in love.
It permeates my cells like a virus, a disease–it fills my mind with fever as I lay beside him each night. One night I discovered why he burns against my skin: whereas my average body temperature is below average, his is above. Whereas I tend to feel warm easily, he is easily freezing. So when nothing separates our bodies, his furnace fuels my flood, and though I hate the heat, he has made me cold-blooded: without him to bring me to life, without his sunshine on my cold scales, I remain lethargic, lifeless, incomplete.
I am in love.
It is a state of being. It is the awareness that my heart beats for two. That as I yearn for him, he yearns for me. It’s the awareness that I need nothing else in my life than his presence. It is the grandeur of knowing we are true partners: that we’ll be here for each other no matter how far apart we are, that our greatest happiness is witnessing the other’s happiness, that our futures are one and the same.
I am love.
And it made me question the glory of New Year’s. This past year I have reevaluated my goals every month, and why should I change things now? Why should I close this chapter? What says I must start anew? To live every day like I’m dying–what does that mean? Living is dying. I want to live like I’m living–but what does that mean? What does that mean when living is loving?
I am love.
I want to love. I want to erupt with passion, overflow and blow like a hurricane in fury–the fury of mesmerization, disillusionment, realization and actualization. I want to be the best person I can be. I want to change the world, change the world, change the world. And what is the world? My world or yours–ours? And who are we? My personal circle of friends? My university, my city, my country? The world? Whose world?
That is my goal this year: to pursue what I love. To worship my body: to offer it nourishment through good food and pleasing activities, to express myself on the page, to indulge myself in guilty pleasures–late night reading and deep, dreamless sleep. To love: to write, to wonder, to realize. To share. To act. To do. To be.
My future is uncertain–and that’s scary. That’s fear. And love is the antithesis of fear. But the secret is understanding the distinction that love and fear are not feelings, but verbs: we can fear, or we can love–but we must do so actively, intensely, and absolutely: we must control, we must choose, we must believe.
I do not know if I will be accepted into either the master’s program I’ve applied for or Teach for America–if neither option comes through, by the end of May I will have no idea what I’m doing in life. I do not know if this will be the year I marry my fiance: we still must secure a sponsor, our visa petition may be denied, and other unexpected delays may arise. I do not even know when I will see him next–because for all of the above.
I could choose fear. I could collapse under the pressure of the world waiting on my shoulders, crumble and split apart like the beads of light that wander too close to a black hole, information preserved but forever indecipherable. Or I can choose to love. I can accept whatever stress and consequence fills the next 365 days. I can let go of blind terror; I can throw myself headfirst into every endeavor. I can love. I can open my heart, my soul, and let the world ravish me with all its wonderment–both the good and the bad.
I can love.
I am love.
This is my goal. This is my destiny. This is the fabric of my body.
Five years ago today I started blogging. Years before that, I had kept an online journal and routinely participated in other similar activities. It’s been a pleasure, an honor, and an adventure making it this far–and I hope always to be on this journey with you.
The truth is, however, that I began this journey for myself: It is a path I love to follow, not for those who join me on it, but for the sights and experiences it gives me. It is my hope, indeed it is my dream, that as I move through this life–living life first and foremost for myself–that my passions, especially those passions that I’m able to share, may enrich the lives of others as their passions have enriched mine–how Tolkien’s passion for Middle Earth, Einstein’s passion for scientific inquiry, and Milk’s passion for social change have all shaped my life and the lives of others.
And I hope, along this path we all share, I may glimpse your passions as well.