Taking Baby Steps in the New Year
January 9, 2020
My New Year’s resolution is generally not to make any resolutions, but I’ve made an exception this year.
So far, I’m batting a thousand.
My resolutions, in no particular order, are to accomplish the following things every day:
- Lace up my sneakers
- Hold my guitar
- Open my manuscript on the computer
Underwhelmed? Sorry, but I’m having to pace myself. I’ll admit that inspiration has been in short supply since I lost my dad two months ago. He always called me his biggest fan, and trust me, the sentiment was mutual. Whenever I had news to share, his was the first voice I wanted to hear. He was soothing, wise and reassuring when I was down and buoyantly enthusiastic when I had good news. His exuberance practically filled the heavens — and filled my heart to overflowing — when he rejoiced with me over some achievement or source of joy, no matter how big or small. Upon his death, I’ve found myself contemplating the tree-falling-in-the-woods conundrum: If Dad isn’t around to express his pride in me, do my achievements still exist? This is a new normal, and I’m numbly feeling my way along.
Hence my modest goals for the new year.
But you know what? They don’t feel modest. They feel huge.
Hiking, making music and writing fiction are among the greatest passions in my life. But my passions are suddenly tinged with deep sorrow — Dad’s not here to share them with! — so I’m consciously making my world very small. I don’t have to hike; I just have to lace up a pair of sneakers. I don’t have to play my guitar; I just have to hold it in my arms. I don’t have to finish a novel, or even write another page; I just have to behold the work I’ve already completed. This feels almost holy, a way of honoring the things that have brought me so much joy. I have no goals — perhaps nothing productive will unfold all day long — but I have to connect with the things that fill my spirit. I have to acknowledge them and express my gratitude each and every day, even if those things risk causing me pain right now.
As you can possibly guess, these small accomplishments tend to lead to bigger ones. When I lace up my sneakers, or caress my guitar, or open my manuscript on my computer, the voice in my head is no longer conjuring the million reasons that a hike or a song or a chapter isn’t convenient or feasible or preferable at that given moment. Lacing my sneakers tends to lead me outdoors, which tends to lead me to the greenway, which . . . well, you know the rest.
But no pressure! If I do nothing but sit, sneaker-clad, in front of the manuscript on my computer screen with my guitar in my arms, well, that’s plenty good enough. I have offered namaste to my sources of joy, and I ask nothing of them, just as they ask nothing of me. We’re simply co-existing, and we know we’ll always be there for each other, maybe not today. . .
. . . but in time.
No rush. I don’t feel like rushing right now.
Maybe that’s the greatest lesson Dad has ever taught me.