By Christine Baker
Off the Trail, USA
It's a lot easier to say when something ended rather than when it began. Most of us can recognize the end from a mile away, but the beginning always slips up on us, lulling us into thinking what we're living through is yet another moment, in yet another day.
-Steve Yarbrough, Safe from the Neighbors
Christine Baker and Jessie
I can't help it. New Year's Eve is my least favorite holiday. Maybe it's the media's incessant need to shove list after list at us of the Top 10 Really Important Things That Happened (I already know, I was here for them!). Or maybe it's the song Auld Lang Syne, a Scottish song originally used to celebrate endings and beginnings, which just sounds sad to me. I've also never been a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. The way I look at it, we should be resolving to be better people every day, not just once a year.
We are programmed into using New Year's Eve to do everything in excess: eat, drink, laugh and party. As if somehow on January first, while we are nursing a killer hangover and watching the Rose Bowl, the world will suddenly becomes serious again. All we are focused on is how we want to become thinner or smarter or richer and how we will somehow change our lives in a snap by thinking through our goals only one day a year.
According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 percent of Americans make New Year's resolutions. The top three resolutions in 2012 were (in order): lose weight, get organized and save more money. Yet according to the same study, only eight percent actually are successful in achieving those resolutions.
So here is my question – why can't we resolve to look at how we are living our lives every day? Here's a thought: each evening, make a choice to sit together around the dinner table with no phones, no television, no technology and ask one another what was your high moment and your low moment. We can learn a lot by asking this simple question. We can be mindful of the people around us. We can be mindful of the moments of our lives that we ignore because nothing stellar happened.
I don't resolve anything on New Year's Eve. I stay in, make a wonderful dinner and watch movies. On that day, just like every other day, I've tried to be the best person I can be. I try to do an act of kindness for someone else. I try to be patient. I try to work hard. I strive to throw my whole self into every moment without wasting a single breath. And as a result, I'm usually asleep before midnight because to me, New Year's Eve is another night. It's just another night I can recharge to become the person I was meant to be on the next day, and the next day, and the next day.
So for this New Year, don't waste your time making lists of all the things you didn't accomplish in the previous year that you want to accomplish in the new one. We don't need fanfare or noise, streamers or party hats to remind us that we are loved, we are grateful for our blessings, and most of all, we are alive.
The Italian word for "today" is oggi, and I love the way it sounds – almost like Oh-Gee. "Oh-Gee, this is a beautiful moment I do not want to let pass me by." Rather than looking back at what happened or looking ahead at what will be, why not look at what is – right now in this very moment. Simply make a silent promise to yourself that on every day of every year, you will endeavor to be the type of person you can be proud of.