After all the fuss and celebration surrounding New Year’s, how much has actually changed? What have those resolutions amounted to? Once the festivities die down, there’s little left to remind us of our resolve. And it seems the new year often masks a continuation of old habits and routines, despite how loudly we hail its transformative powers.
I’m a fan of shaking things up – traveling, trying new things, pushing my boundaries. But come New Year’s, I’m as complacent as anyone else. There is just too much built into the changing of the year, too many expectations. I often feel utterly defeated before we even make it to December 31.
This year was no different, and I sat with the familiar feelings of reluctance and disappointment as the day approached. Just need to make it through the next few days, I thought, and life can go back to normal. It was that prospect, though, that filled me with dread. Life will go back to normal, unless I do something about it…
I didn’t paint any gaudy signs or post any dramatic declarations on Facebook. Rather, I let the new year sneak into my life like a little draft of wind and followed it around for a bit to see where it would go. I followed it from my favorite Venice Beach cafe into an unfamiliar neighborhood. I turned a corner and dove into a serene, sunlit series of canals. Down the flowery lanes I walked, over decorated bridges, past ducks and children playing. So close to home yet heretofore unexplored!
The next day, the wind led me from my Silverlake spot over to Griffith Park. Yeah, okay, I’ve been here before. Not too exciting. But the new year had something else in mind. I started down my usual route, with about fifty other New Year’s Day hikers. Somewhere along the way, caught up in the beauty of glowing green hills, my feet took a turn, then another, and another. I soon found myself alone in a clearing of brush, standing in front of a lone and overflowing sage bush. All of a sudden this place I thought I knew so well had revealed itself anew, like a little treasure. I took a sprig of sage home as a souvenir.
This year I’m not setting any resolutions. It’s not that I don’t believe in them, but the practice just isn’t going to serve me this time. The freshness of 2013 has come through in unexpected turns and hidden revelations. This year will hold much to surprise and delight, and there is clearly plenty of the “familiar” that remains to be explored. I intend, therefore, to find the new around every corner, let my feet ramble, and trust the wind that guides me along the way.