New year. The time for resolutions and goal-setting. Clearing the conscience and wiping the slate clean. Fresh starts. Blah blah blah. And yet, as fake and false and contrived as all that may seem, there’s something undeniable about the urge to reset.
Yesterday, in the spirit of such things, I tried to reach out to someone with whom I had once been close. All I received in response, however, was bland cheer. At first, it bummed me out and I vowed never to do something so sentimental again. Screw them, I said. Leave the past behind. But then I thought: No, hang on. You’re being unfair. He’s just keeping it civil. Besides (I thought) he may not be in that place yet.
And that’s okay, because know for a fact that this person is still working on himself. We all are, right? And if not, why not? None of us is perfect, or exactly where we want to be. A moment’s honest reflection would reveal that, surely.
Or, perhaps not. Perhaps you’re utterly awesome already. Maybe you’re completely content with the way your life is going and everything in it. Good for you. To quote the great Kory Clarke, I’m happy for ya… gee, I wish I could be that good.
But even if you’re not—and let’s face it, only those of us completely lacking in humility would dare to be so arrogant—chances are you’re still doing okay. More than okay, in fact.
Most of us, I think, have a model of self-image to which we aspire. That might be purely physical—what we want to look like, on the outside—but the chances are it also includes an internal paradigm. Either way, moving toward this self-image involves making some changes, and to my mind it’s this that makes us awesome. Because even for those who aren’t happy, or “in that place”, wanting to make those changes makes it okay. If you acknowledge that there’s work to be done, that in itself can make you happy. It gives us purpose, and purpose makes us happy.
Change, of course, comes in many forms. It can be big, seismic, sudden. Those big changes are usually triggered by an external event—something out of your control. (Listen to Nick Cave on the subject of the death of his son for more on this.) The changes to which I’m referring—the changes we can make—tend to be smaller. Incremental. They take time to take effect. The important thing, I feel, is that you’re trying to make a difference, to yourself and to those around you. That, ultimately, should underpin your sense of purpose.
Perhaps one day I’ll receive a reply from that person. Even if I don’t, though, I’d like to think that my New Year’s message made a difference, even a small one, and that they know, deep down, that it was borne out of a desire to bury the hatchet, put the past behind, and raise a smile.