Thursday, 1 January 2015
A WHOLE New Year?
I have spent the last few New Year's Eves huddled inside my little cocoon with my dog, avoiding the forced socialising and build up towards midnight. This year I wanted to be with others, so spent a really fun evening with friends. The countdown to midnight comprised the final ten minutes of our night together. It was good to see the New Year in with friends and be able to reflect on how different things are from the same time last year.
A conversation on the way home about how we didn't welcome the WHOLE of 2015 in at midnight, simply the second after midnight on the 1st of January started me thinking and has led to this blog post. It's made me think again about how much pressure we put on ourselves to find a 'magic bullet' or 'magical season' or 'magic moment' that will end our misery or bring us final fulfilment. The problem with putting all of our desire to change and improve into what turns out to be one week of determined effort, or if we are really focused, perhaps a whole month of living up to our 'resolutions' is, that our NEW YEAR quickly disappoints us and we often end up feeling failures and give up on our resolutions and, often, ourselves.
Midnight on the 31st December 2014 has not suddenly meant that I have woken up with the job I so desperately need/want. My chimney and roof remain in desperate need of repair. I still have to walk my dog so that she is happy and doesn't chew or destroy my furniture. Nor was there a handsome (or any other kind of) Prince standing at my door awaiting my response so that he could whisk me away from my drudgery to contentment and bliss. Even in the original fairy tales (often really gruesome) there was no Happy EVER After. We've managed to 'Disney' out the reality that for most people who have an awareness of the world around them and their place in it, life is often painful. There are very few of the friends of my generation who do not struggle financially. People become ill, both physically and mentally. However hard I try, I cannot foresee any of these events simply because I have stayed up until midnight on a designated night of the year. I cannot prevent them from happening, nor should I be surprised if they do. Happy New Year is a blessing, a desire that 2015 will be good. It is not a statement of policy or intention.
All that happened last night at midnight, was that one moment of my life moved into another. Through the practice of mindfulness this is how I have learned to manage life. It has been important that I have learned to ACCEPT those things that are beyond my power to change. I am better able to watch the Daily Politics, as a result. I don't get overly emotionally involved anymore, because apart from using my vote and expressing my opinion, there is little else I, on my own, can do. I know, I would love to think that the universe revolved around me more than that, but difficult as it has been, I have learned I am not the solution to the world's problems!
Last year, I finally decided to stop setting myself unmanageable dieting goals. It was only in March, after I had achieved some level of progress in managing my BPD, that I felt ready to work on feeling better physically. For the first time I stopped looking ahead to an arbitrary target weight and decided to focus on my love of fruit, vegetables and home cooking. The changes I made had to be in the moment. Any progress I made was not reliant on my feelings - a lapse was not a relapse (something repeated as a mantra to drug users in recovery). I don't know when it happened, but as the weight came off pound by pound I made my way through the year shedding over three and a half stone.
Change is possible, but I can't decide how a whole day is going to go, let alone the whole of a year. So, any decision to change how I do things must be on a moment by moment basis. What matters is the ability not to judge myself for the times I miss my targets. I have had to learn to readjust my aims. To look at the target and decide if it is the right one for me, then reset my sights and try again. It is easy to become discouraged if I think I have to determine the progress of a year in advance. Or even if I actually believe that by any effort on my behalf I can influence the progress of the year, I will condemn myself to constant battles with myself about how powerless I am. Better for me if I learn to accept my life as it is right now, then choose areas that I want to change, before I set myself achievable goals. Above all, I do not have the capacity to live life in wormholes or time and space vortices, which means I can only live my life along a line of time which progresses, moment by moment. You know what? I think that's more than enough for me to handle!