I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions for 2016. I haven’t started on New Year’s resolutions for 2017 either. Although I sometimes I do make resolutions for myself, it’s far from an annual tradition; whatever goals I do make tend to be more abstract and less definable in regards to their accomplishment. Previous resolutions of mine have included ‘being more spontaneous’ and ‘defying societal expectations’. To that extent, I have been slack in thinking of lofty goals for the upcoming year.
When midnight comes tonight, time will continue to pass just as it always has (disregarding the added leap second, necessarily). The infinite clock of universal time takes no notice of our mere Gregorian calendar and its arbitrary initiation of a new year. But for what tonight lacks in realness, it makes up greatly with symbolism—scribbling down a different digit when writing out the date could just be the needed break that some need to feel emboldened to make a change in their lives. Or, for those more cynical, waiting until the New Year is a great excuse to put off difficult change until later.
For me, I aim to live a life of continual improvement and thus don’t often use the method of making resolutions for a certain date in time. If change is to be had, ideally it should happen as soon as it is possible. Still, over the course of a year we do tend to stray from our ideals, and the prospect of a new calendar offers the chance to pause and reevaluate what kind of person we are and if that aligns with who we desire to be. If we’ve run astray of our intentions, the New Year might just be the catalyst to prompt the change.
But instead of focusing more on changes to come on the eve of 2017, I’d rather focus on what the outgoing year brought. Admittedly, I’d say 2016 was not my best year ever. The first half of the year saw the unraveling of my Australian adventure and with it the confidence that many of my ideas are not foolproof. Back at home, the health of some family members began to dramatically decline. Additionally, the downward spiral of American politics and the direction of the national discourse did not help in giving 2016 a good aura.
But 2016 had its peaks as well. For starters, I ended up traveling quite a lot, and to many new places. I also had the opportunity to try out a couple of jobs I’ve always wanted to try—leading outdoor trips and working on a wooden sailboat. This year was the one where I finally got a good taste of long-distance bike-riding and found I want even more of it. I even kept up my blog through the whole year. These experiences I’ve had, and many more, will be rooted in the year 2016; I’m grateful for 2016 because they happened.
And through it all, I’m grateful that I’m still well-adjusted and here to appreciate what happened. Making it to another year is not a given—it’s a gift and should be celebrated as such. Making it in good health and in good spirits is another thing to celebrate.
Thinking ahead to 2017, I don’t have many goals of what to do. Unlike 2016, 2017 will be less of a mystery upfront—I do, after all, already have my next two jobs lined up through October. I know I’ll be substitute teaching for a bit in Michigan before doing more environmental education in Massachusetts. The greater challenge of this New Year is instead what to be. Am I the kind of person I want to be? If I met myself as a stranger, would I want to interact with this person?
For me, the less frenetic pace of change upcoming in 2017 may lead to some more time for introspection than 2016 allowed for. A less uncertain lifestyle may also lead to the development of habits—either good or bad. Among habits, I’d love to meditate and do yoga more regularly. And 2017 will also present the challenges of existing within the changing context of our society. I foresee 2017 presenting challenges for tolerance and openness in civic life. As we look to our goals for the New Year, we can all look to ourselves and ask if we are the kind and generous and accepting people we would like to be; we can make a resolution to defy prejudice and stamp out hate.
Here’s to a better 2017
Happy New Year!