Welcome to 2016!
Did we make it? Is this really 2016? Trump might win the presidency, I went to the beach on Christmas Day, and Justin Bieber is popular again (sorry??).
Anyway, I guess if you're reading this we made it. And you may or may not be hung over. Hopefully you made it to brunch? No? Well, you have 365 days to complete your other resolutions (yes, it's a leap year!).
Typically today is set aside for resolution making and reflections, the sort of cliched stuff I hate. I've said this before, but why do we need to wait until January 1 to start pursuing goals to better ourselves?
Unfortunately, I'm about to give into the latter. I always struggle with what I'm supposed to do on New Year's Day. Beside eat black-eyed peas (my dad taught me that superstition) and/or resolve myself to be healthy, happy, and fulfilled.
One of my favorite books growing up was "Space Station Seventh Grade" by Jerry Spinelli. It's a rather old book (1982). My mom picked it up at some garage sale years ago when the pages were already yellowed, but I've crinkled the pages even more. I revisit it almost every year. It's one of the more truthful young adult novels out there, one that makes me both snort out loud and accurately captures adolescent heartache and frustrations. It also offers some life wisdom I like to think back on.
In the novel, the main character, Jason, ponders New Year's Day much like me: he thinks it sucks. Which it does. But Jason's mom tells him about her tradition that beats resolutions. You count up all the positive and negative experiences in the past year and then decide whether it was a good or bad year. Positive experiences get two points, and negative experiences get one.
No, I'm not going to detail my negative and positive experiences. That distinction seems arbitrary when you step back. It's all experience, and it's all growth. And what if it was a bad year? You can't do anything to fix that.
I like to savor all experiences. One of my favorite quotes comes from ol' honest Abe (this actually was my high school yearbook quote):
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
"Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world."
David McCullough, Jr. said that. I don't know who he is, but Google says he wrote a book titled "You Are Not Special."
If you're going to make a resolution today, I think it should be to experience life this year. And if you think you failed in life in 2015, I promise you that you haven't. Everything you've endured this year, whether it be an engagement, a breakup, a loss, depression, passing a class, getting a promotion, etc. -- these are all experiences. The year behind you is never a loss. It is a reminder of the path you've traveled and perhaps a reminder not to return down that path, but it is not a failure.
I can name several things I've experienced this year: I Snapchatted my pee to 34 people. My dog died. I tried to break up a couple (okay, that's heavy wording; heavily wishing is more what I did). I got published on a site other than my own blog. I also went on TV and talked about dating, which is a hoot because a week later I went on the first "real" date of my life. It didn't work, but it was an experience. Actually, a rather boring one. I also got a PhD adviser, smoked legal pot, and tried hot yoga (never again!).
And this year? I'm going to try to go to church more. I'm going to run a half-marathon. And I'm going to throw the best brunch weekend you ever did see. And in 365 days, I'll get back to you with everything else I did.
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