January 4, 2012
Tradition will have it that we are to face a New Year with grand schemes to uncover New Me. One that, say, doesn’t smoke, runs marathons, and lives in a home as organised as an Excel sheet. In other words, a Me that, in the style of modern fairytale, acquires super-human willpower as the clock strikes midnight.
Our imagination is, as usual, far ahead of reality. Even if we do fulfil the terms of the self-imposed contract, it never has that clean, upward-trajectory feel of our champagne-induced dreams. Progress is made, only to be undermined the next day, and goals change to suit more realistic expectations. When the end of the year draws near, we often struggle to match what we actually achieved with the resolutions made. Not because we are inherently lazy or are born to fail, but because our imagination leaves us with too high expectations.
Instead I propose to look back on the old year, and appreciate what was achieved whether or not it followed some expected or desired course. In this household we have undertaken two rather strenuous house-moves, one major, one minor, which we at the beginning of the year could not have foreseen. In the beginning of July all was chaos. Plans changed from one moment to the next, old contracts were cancelled and new signed, inventory packed and taken away, causing a strange sense of dislocation as if gravity were momentarily down; and yet at the end of the month we were in a new flat, lamps were hung and boxes had been unpacked. No grand plan had been adhered to: we just got on with the tasks, great and small, and the new flat slowly and imperceptibly became our home.
Last year’s joint New Year’s resolution of finally sorting out the photo albums did not come true, not because we couldn’t be bothered, but because other and more important things got in the way. We have reminded ourselves of what we did achieve, though, and have resolved to remember the myriad accomplishments the coming year is sure to be full of. That, and sorting out the photo albums, of course.