Resolutions or Not, Here I Come

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I’m convinced that we wouldn’t have so many New Year’s resolutions—kept or unkept—if the stretch from Thanksgiving Turkey Feasts to New Year Ball Drops occurred in, say, August. We’ve packed November and December so full of holidays that this period has turned into one giant year-end party.

I like it, of course, sweet potatoes aside. Just consider how effective this period is at setting us up for a fresh start come January 2nd: You stopped watering the Frazier Fir days ago, waiting for that last official day of vacation when you could drag its tinseled remains to the curb; that day when you could quiet the twinkle bulbs and stuff them back into boxes in knots, and say farewell to relatives who ate your leftover cookies for breakfast in their new sweaters.

They’ve gone now and work calls.

January 1st was the final day to linger in bed with a novel and it will be quite a while before the next work-halting holidays show up again on the calendar. With winter hardly under way and two months of potential cold heading for those drafty window seals, it’s time to hunker down. So you retrieve the ice scraper from the shed and merge into commuter traffic.

Do you know what I think? This is exactly how it should be. We need rhythm. We’re cyclical people who thrive on beginnings and endings. As great as extended vacations might sound, we can only take so much time off before going batty. Setting a resolution or two and flipping on the company lights January 2nd is therapeutic, and much more so after the kind of December we’ve just had, gorging ourselves on too many (good) delights. We’re actually tired from it. “Get me back to the office!” we say with more or less enthusiasm.

January 2nd signals a clean slate. No mistakes yet. Three hundred and sixty four maxims left on the tear-off calendar to inspire us. A brand new pen set. Like watching for forsythia buds in March and for that moment each night when the pillow welcomes a sleepy head, we thrive on the rhythm of beginnings and endings. It aids us in moving through time with balance. (I’ve heard that large cities can cause trouble with this because they remain forever awake, their circadian rhythms jet-lagged into something unnatural.)

By the time our year-end party has come to an end, we're ready for a new beginning. January 2nd, perhaps due more to its proximity to holidays and less to it being on the lee side of 2012, turns out to be the perfect time to start afresh.

Of course, all of this waxing and waning about rhythm makes me laugh right now. I started taking attention-deficit medication last month and I'm finding it terribly hard to care one lick about rhythm or cycles. So much to do! So little time! Sleep gets in my way. Meals feel like interruptions. I had to tell myself a week in advance that I would refrain from any form of work on Christmas day, despite a house project deadline that would have been fun to address.

Even now, it’s 12:41 AM as I write this sentence. I feel fine about that. Regardless, I can’t escape the nagging sense that ignoring the rhythms God has set in order will cost me. My driven brain says, “Resolutions or not, here I come,” but such a relentless, nearly mechanical movement forward will surely bite me. I have to consider how to enter the new year with wisdom. Even gears need to be oiled, yet I live as though they don’t.

With this confession, I've got to think about pursuing a healthy work-rest balance in the new year. I can’t promise I’ll succeed, but with a full belly of holiday goodies and a new striped v-neck to keep me toasty in the office, I'm off to a good start.

Post written by Sam Van Eman.