Oh, 2018. How have you got the better of me already?
I usually start a new year off in a fit of positivity and clarity. Of nauseating gung-ho-ness and “live-your-best-life” enthusiasm. The thing is, I do love a fresh new year – like a fresh white page waiting to be filled with words. A new start, a do-over, a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence full of possibility.
So 2018, what happened?
Do we put too much pressure on ourselves as the minute hand ticks past midnight on New Year’s Eve?
It’s only the third week of January, and as I said to a friend recently, the month so far has felt like one long Monday. As one day piles on top of another with little of substance to show for it, I feel my only hope is the meme that’s been going around on social media: “I’ve decided that my 2018 will start on February 1st. January is a free trial month.”
Is this defeatist? So soon after the dawn of a bright new year, so soon after that night that felt full to bursting with potential, as I kissed my guy under a starry sky on a lawn full of friends, I wonder how I can feel so deflated already.
To start with, an achilles injury I finally acknowledged after a painful run on January 2nd, put a pause on any ambitions of fabulous physical fitness I may have started the year with. And before I knew it this became a metaphor for every other goal I had set for myself in 2018. I stalled before I even crossed the start line.
With the exercise endorphins out of reach, I’ve been seeking solace in chocolate and butter – fully aware of the counter productive nature of my actions. Also, when you live in Paradise it’s never not bikini season, so each weekend my failure to avoid the temptation of the vices I love and hate the most is plain for all to see.
My writing has stalled – as it does every few months (can I get an “Amen Sister” from my writer friends out there?) – under the crushing awareness of how many writers out are there saying it one hundred times better than I can. It’s not writer’s block so much as writer’s hesitation. The call to do what I love wrestling with my better judgement which questions who would care to read these words.
My resolution, which I renew daily, to be more patient with my girls, wavers by lunch time on most days and I flounder around for signs that I’m not a bad mother after all, coming up empty handed more often than not.
And as I type this, I’m the only one in my little family not laid up with a particularly nasty flu bug – but the tell-tale scratch in my throat and pounding at my temples is a sure sign that a lucky escape isn’t on the cards; I am next – and my January low-point is yet to reveal itself.
In short, the month is only half-gone and I feel under siege by my failures.
But therein, perhaps, lies the lesson. It’s easy to keep resolutions when life doesn’t have other plans. It’s smooth sailing when the wind is at your back. This month, there’s nothing to do but sit in this hard space, and the way it looks from here, the only way out is through.
I don’t think I could have packed more cliches into one paragraph if I tried, but that notwithstanding, the only conclusion I can draw is that 2018 will be the year of getting up, dusting myself off, and going again. And again, and again, and again.
When at the end of this year I go through my January photos to put together our family album for 2018, I know I’ll see snapshots of smiling faces and happy moments, of our firstborn’s 5th birthday party and the family trip to one of our favourite islands. Sandy feet on beaches and ice cream on faces. I will see the good moments lived and loved around the edges of where I am now, the ones that happened – and are happening, even if they’re passing unappreciated as I mop a hot little head an administer another vial of paracetamol, my running shoes blinking at me uselessly from the corner.
And perhaps – when all the living for the year has been done – I won’t even remember this hard space, this frustration, this sense of defeat.
The only cure for my achilles injury is rest and patience – and maybe that’s what the rest of me needs as well.
If you’re having a similar kind of January, hang in there. It feels like one long Monday now, but a new day is coming.