I’ve been reading a lot of blogs, posts, and articles lately about everything new year: diets, planners, yoga. The one thing I’ve learned (besides that I should drink more water) is that January, at first blush, seems to be about change. Changing eating habits, reading habits, writing habits. More of one thing, less of another. Cynics say resolutions are pointless and that in three weeks or less, the gym will thin out, book sales will dwindle, and we will go back to being the same people we were in December. Why waste our time?
My answer is simple: time is never wasted when it’s spent on something or someone we care about. I’ve come to the conclusion that the new year is less about change and more about recommitting ourselves to the things we care about most: work, family, health. We know what matters; January just reminds us.
Take me, for instance. Yesterday was my kids’ first day back at school. The night before, I diligently wrote the notes for their lunch boxes, taking the time to draw the silly cartoons they love so much. I also packed their dried fruit and sugar-free pudding cups in advance. Do I know when February hits and I return to teaching that I will haphazardly shove crackers and smiley sticky notes into their sacks? Yep. Does it stop me? Nope. Because who knows? Maybe this time it’ll last a little longer—a day, a week, a month. One day I won’t send notes, and the previous days will add up to something meaningful, a happy memory.
Maybe in time, we’ll spend the majority of our day doing the things that matter most. Occasionally, I imagine myself as an old woman with all kinds of time on my hands. In this fantasy, I have gray spiky hair (yep, make-believe) and am reading books, lots and lots of books. I’m also attending the library and literary events that I always have on my calendar but often miss. Of course I have written a book in just about every genre I’ve ever imagined and often ponder about said genre. This fantasy mildly changes (in the summer, I have a garden, in the winter, a library with a fireplace) but always includes the people and things I enjoy most.
Like that fantasy, January reveals my greatest hopes, such as happy, healthy kids. The new year doesn’t have to be about doing more (although after making and eating two pounds of fudge, I am doing more crunches). It can be about prioritizing our cares and taking this month to discover just what they are.