Some kind of resolution

Renewal

We are now in the twilight zone.

It’s that time of the year that we forget exists. What, December actually continues on, past the 26th?? Well, yes, it does – but even accepting that to be true, I find it difficult to comprehend how the time seems to have slowed to a crawl, so that from the 26th to today feels as if it has taken a month already – and it’s only 30th December!

If I concentrate really hard, I am able to locate some hazy memories, as faded (and slightly orange-tinted) as those of my childhood, of the first week of December 2016.

At the beginning of December, I was at work as usual. Just like in any workplace, the beginning of December signals a shift in mindset. Everyone has their sights set on the end of the year fast approaching, and is busy dealing with the impact of that on their role. At my workplace, various staff were busily preparing for the final meeting of the Board of Directors for the year, writing grant aquittals (due, so unkindly, on 22 December), planning the Christmas Party, or working on the text and images for the Christmassy message that would go out in the final electronic newsletter to our subscribers for 2016.

From week two of December, numbers in our office begin to dwindle, as annual leave began to kick in. In an office of only 13 staff, three of my colleagues are from the UK, and all three were going back in December this year, so the numbers in the office began to decrease as early as December 5th as, one by one, those colleagues disappeared. By the final week leading up to Christmas there was just myself and three others remaining. On Thursday 22nd December, all four of us were still working hard, until about 3pm, when it became time to drink a glass of prosecco and eat cherries while we cleaned out the office fridge together and chatted. That memory could easily be of something that occurred a month ago now.

Between 1st and 25th December, I caught up with various friends for the last time for the year, drove to the country to see family members I wouldn’t see at Christmas, went to the work Christmas party, caught up with my brother in Melbourne, went to see Xylouris White play at the Recital Centre, finished my Christmas shopping, finished work, and drove to the country to spend Christmas with inlaws.

That all feels now like years ago. How is it possible that we are still not finished with December???

Yesterday, 29th December, was my daughter’s birthday. I always feel a bit sorry that her birthday falls in a weird vacuum in normal time. This was apparent when she was born – I had the Maternity Ward at the local hospital to myself for the 5 days I was there. Even births go on hold in the week between Christmas and New Year, apparently.

For her birthday this year, we took her out to a movie and dinner, with a friend of hers called Lili, a delightful girl she’s known since she was five. In conversation, Lili kept accidentally referring to “last year” when she was talking about things that had happened this year, and after making this error a few times, laughed that she couldn’t believe that it IS still 2016, because December, and even the days since Christmas, seem to have taken so long to go by.

I think it’s possible that there is some kind of rupture in the usual space-time continuum from 26 December to 2 January. I was not successful in my application for a grant to investigate that so I can’t provide any concrete evidence. It’s just a hunch.

Perhaps the slowness of this week is exacerbated this year in Melbourne by the weirdness of the weather we’ve had during twilight week. To our collective disgust, we’ve had wintery weather right through Spring, and then suddenly on Christmas day it was 35 degrees, and it’s been a similar temperature for the next 4! It’s hot, it’s humid – in short, it’s weather that is conducive to doing not much at all, just lazing around in a stupor and inventing new types of iced tea to drink. Making iced tea is in fact the most physical activity I’ve engaged in since Boxing Day.

Maybe this week is designed to be a kind of blank slate for the mind and the psyche, a time simply for rest and rejuvenation, before we rev up our motors to begin a new year.

Just as December begins with a slight mind shift into finishing up and going on a break, so January begins with another distinct mind shift. There is a sense of optimism about starting a new year, as if we are being granted a licence to start afresh. Start what afresh, you may ask? Whatever applies – professional work, personal growth, relationships – why, basically, life, in a nutshell. In December we planned our work each day as if we were heading for a finishing line of some sort. In January we start up by thinking, great, I can’t wait to file away all that stuff from last year and get things ready to go for the next year. 

That’s the fun that we find in celebrating a New Year, at least for those of us lucky enough to be living comfortable lives with a roof over our heads, where we don’t have to worry about where every meal is going to come from, or whether a bomb will be dropped on our home while we sleep. For us, the idea of a new year allows us to indulge in a harmless fantasy that we have an opportunity to start our lives afresh, or at least, to review and recalibrate, shaking off old, unwanted habits and beginning to form new and virtuous ways of living and being.

With this in mind, many of us make resolutions at the start of the year. (I’m inconsistent on this – for years I have not bothered with this tradition simply because I refuse to see it as an obligation the way some people do, but this year I might dip in again.) This desire to better ourselves is a heart-warming thing about humans. Sadly that desire is easily and frequently misdirected, by advertising and cultural pressures, into far too many resolutions, made by people of perfectly acceptable sizes, to go on diets, and/or lose a certain amount of weight, as if that is the most important thing one can do to be a better person.

But if you think creatively, it’s possible to use this twilight zone of a week, and the notion of a New Year’s Resolution, to think about what is important to you right now, and what you want to change. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar, or maybe you want to do something concrete to help people who are disadvantaged. Maybe you would just like to make some new friends who have a similar outlook to you, and, like you, want to do some good in the world.

Whatever you decide to do, it doesn’t have to be big, significant or even noble. It would be stating the obvious to say that a small, simple action is going to be easier and therefore more achievable.

For example, my partner told me his resolution for 2017 is to learn more about music. This is coming from someone who already knows quite a lot about baroque, renaissance, classical, choral, and jazz music, at least, in comparison to most people I know.

I approve of his goal, particularly because I know he is tired and disheartened by work quite often lately. A more obvious resolution for him to make would have been to get a new job this year, but I think the New Year’s Resolution process works better if you don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Sure, he could have focussed on the goal of removing a negative thing in his life, and put pressure on himself to achieve that in a fixed timeframe, but if he failed to achieve it in that timeframe, he’d himself more miserable in the attempt. Instead, he’s thought of something totally unrelated to work, an interest that he gets a lot of enjoyment from, and how he can increase the enjoyment he gets from it. (listening to music more than he already does is probably not possible.)

I don’t usually indulge in uttering wise-sounding, advisory statements on this blog, but all the above leads me to this thought, perhaps because it’s something I am trying to follow more and more in my life:

Find the things, and people, in life that you are interested in and think about how you can engage more deeply with them. Your life will be richer as a result.

img_1138-at-somers-beach

Pic: At Somers Beach, Victoria, January 2012 – © Blathering, 2012.

via Daily Prompt: Renewal

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4 Comments

  1. I always start the new year with a sense of profound pessimism and depression. It’s cold, dark and people at work suddenly start talking about “deadlines” and “big pushes” and such 😦

    I spent most of December not thinking about Christmas, then it was Christmas, currently I’m at work and soon it’ll be January. Humph.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Ha! I didn’t consider that it might feel totally different if the year started in the middle of winter. Perhaps this twilight zone really only applies in the Southern Hemisphere. I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling depressed by the cold, I hope a warm cup of tea or cocoa cheers you up! If not then maybe it’s time to make the “big push” – take a holiday!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. For us, Christmas and the New Year definitely come as two separate items with a dash of reality in between because Tigger had to go to work on Thursday and Friday, though she was allowed to leave work a generous whole hour early on Friday!

    In the UK, the period between Christmas and New Year is popularly called Twixmas and though it has a slightly different quality from a normal week, this difference is slowly being eroded as more and more shops and businesses open during it. This year, as both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were on Sunday, the Twixmas period corresponded to a normal working week, though with Boxing Day being designated a public holiday. The high street looked much as usual (apart from decorations) though with rather more people about than usual because most shops were offering sales bargains.

    The magic of Christmas that we feel as children dissipates as we grow up, go to work and acquire family and responsibilities. If you have children of your own, you may be able to feel a little of the reflected magic that they feel, I suppose. Happily for us, Tigger and I have shed family responsibilities and, apart from a Christmas lunch with Tigger’s sister and her partner the week before, we can spend both festivals on our own, pleasing only ourselves. It helps that in the UK, Christmas occurs in winter, meaning that we can justify staying at home, keeping warm, eating too much, dozing and watching videos.

    I never make resolutions, whether at the New Year or any other time. If I really want to do a thing, then I will do it, resolution or no resolution, but if my heart isn’t in it, then no amount of resolving will bring it about. Making resolutions is setting yourself up to fail. Mind you, some people do seem to enjoy beating themselves up over their failures and broken resolutions nicely provide for this.

    2016 has been a strange and strangely sinister year and I fear there is more to come. Nonetheless, I wish you and yours a Happy New Year and the joyful fulfillment of the hopes you may have for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Twixmas! I can’t believe I haven’t heard the term before – surely we usually copy any idea that suggests another shopping “season”. Spending Christmas in a relaxed fashion that didn’t require obligatory trips across the state to visit family would be idyllic but I can’t see it happening for us for a while yet!

      2016 has indeed been a strange year, I hope that 2017 will be better, & a happy year for you & Tigger!

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