On Fresh Starts and New Year’s Neurosis

I’ve always been a little skeptical of the status quo, a skepticism which is probably an inherent pre-requisite to mould breaking. So what of New Year’s Resolutions? Every year, it seems, people return to this practice en masse, often making the same resolutions year after year, failing to fulfill them sooner and sooner each year. My husband has already failed his, which was “to never make a resolution again,” because he made the same resolution last year. It always brings to mind the mantra of Ecclesiastes:

“Everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Yet, I must admit I can see why the prospect of a fresh start is so irresistible. To be completely and unabashedly honest, often I wish for a fresh start daily, sometimes more than once a day. Frequently I wonder why so often do or say such embarrassing, inappropriate or shameful things. I should just keep my mouth shut, I conclude, and hide in a hobbit hole, communicating through written words, which I can re-read and edit and re-edit before presenting to other actual humans. But that likely wouldn’t solve anything, because even with writing, I’ll often look back at things I’ve written years, days, or even moments earlier, and wonder, “what was I thinking?” I also suspect – even though I know better – that I’m the only one who feels that way, and all of you who witnessed my stupidity in person or read my words are perfect and never make silly mistakes ever.

Restart Button for life

At any rate this recurring desire for fresh starts emerges regularly. “That was stupid,” I’ll say to myself, “The best you can hope for is to never see that person again, and perhaps maybe it’s best that you not speak to anyone else who knows that person, and in fact it might be safest if you leave this town and never come back and start fresh somewhere else where nobody can judge you by your past social missteps or otherwise and will only know you for how awesome you are.”

In travelling, one does begin to suspect that a disproportionate amount of fellow travellers are doing just that: looking for a fresh start and a chance to be someone new, attempting to leave behind whatever blemishes of the past they might be escaping from. New Year’s Resolutions offer a similar opportunity to those who are more rooted, or who like me, despite being a serial traveller, have something like a husband who comes with them wherever they go – meaning they can never truly leave their awkward self of yesterday behind – who knows their strengths and faults, their proud moments and epic fails, their sounds and smells, for better or for worse. Someone who knows and frequently witnesses their imperfections and somehow miraculously still loves (or at times at least tolerates) them anyways.

Besides, there is something inspiring about imperfection. Perfection, or the pursuit of it, can be a motivating force, but it can also be a paralyzing one. As Anne Lamott writes, both in writing and in life,

“Perfection is the voice of the oppressor.”

If I am to resolve anything this year, it would be to be less concerned with perfection. For my fresh start, I’m going to start with this blog. I have wanted to write and post a lot more than I’ve been doing, but am often held back if I don’t feel I am able to do it exactly right. I’ve also wanted to spruce this space up visually and choose a new blog theme for a long time: for the better part of a year I’ve been waiting for the “perfect” theme, but it has yet to come. As a first step and a fresh start, I’m going to select a new WordPress theme, possibly at random, possibly more than one in a row, and see how it goes. Hopefully, just as a fresh new journal inspires new entries, a new theme will inspire new content, and things will get a little more active around here once again. I also got a shiny new tool of creativity for Christmas that will also hopefully help, which you’ll see the imperfect results of soon enough. Let me know what you think of the new theme or if you prefer the old one. Happy 2015 and Happy Fresh Start!

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2 thoughts on “On Fresh Starts and New Year’s Neurosis

  1. I like the new theme! And your resolution. And everything else but the snow. :p I thought I was having late-night eye floaties!!

  2. I like what you say about the traveling self. It’s the self who is related to the Facebook self, the job interview self and a whole lot of other two dimensional selves who only appear from time to time.

    The thing is, our regular self is a chameleon self, we are who we are depending on who we are with. We are one person at our mother’s house and quite another in a sport’s bar. This is a good thing, especially for the blogging self. When we write, as when we travel, we are free to become a unique voice – and there is honesty in that.

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