Resolution to resolve

In my efforts to recover from inadequate sleep over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sleeping in. They say you can’t catch up on sleep, but I beg to differ. My body has interpreted this as a carte blanche to stay wide awake until 3 am, which isn’t good, because eventually I’m going to have to haul my ass into work at an early hour. For the time being, I’m soaking up as much sleep as I can so I don’t get sick, as nearly everyone around me seems to be. I’m also dealing with some unusual nighttime feline hi-jinx. I have an elaborate dinner to cook for family on Saturday (my idea!). Yikes. I never cook for 5 people so it should be fun in more ways than one.

Lots of people are talking about New Year’s resolutions. When I first started this post, I thought I was just blabbing about why I was writing so late when it dawned on me. Catching up on sleep, recuperating… that’s the sort of thing I should be doing on a larger scale too.

It just so happens that my dinner falls on New Year’s day. There are plenty of good reasons to set goals for ourselves as a new calendar year rolls around. I’ve never been one to jump on trends. The sweaty, drunk throngs of revelers are enough to make me want to curl up on the couch with a good book and be done with it. A small gathering of friends would be nice. But honestly? I don’t feel the need to mark this time as anything special. Maybe because it already is? Several weeks ago I did already start taking concrete steps toward improving my physical, mental and spiritual well-being. But it had nothing to do with the time of year. It just happened to follow a thoroughly disenchanting period which (as always) meant that after processing all the crappy stuff I realized I’m awesome and should do even more awesome things with my life.

Yes, New Year’s is as good a time as any to set goals. But you have to be ready for it or you risk riding the wave of excitement and landing on the shores of disappointment. Not a bad move, really – you’ll have tons of company! It has become clear to me that before we can resolve to do something new, we need to let some things go first. Many of us waste loads of energy carrying baggage. So before I put all of my plans in motion, I’m going to resolve to resolve. Because man, do I have a lot of shit I need to let go of. I’m not going to get drunk or high. I’m not going to sit at home (though I will be alone) and feel sorry for myself. Actually, I’m pretty relieved; I don’t feel left out at all when I think about all the people who will be partying and getting mushy at midnight.

A great way to figure out what you need to resolve is Metta Bhavana, also referred to as the lovingkindness meditation. You don’t need candles or incense, nor do you have to negotiate your limbs into uncomfortable positions. The goal is to find a comfortable, quiet spot. Chanting is optional; the idea is to wish happiness and peace, in essence, visualizing happiness and feeling compassion for the following groups of people:

  1. Those you know well and love;
  2. Those who are casual acquaintances as well as people you don’t know (i.e. the world at large);
  3. Those who’ve wronged you or who have inspired negative emotions (or still do).

Of course, it’s extremely difficult to feel compassion and acceptance toward this last group. If you notice that your emotions are still very strong and you can’t bear to try, this is a good indication of experiences you may be holding on to. Making New Year’s resolutions above and beyond that would be masochistic. There’s no point in making promises of things we “will” do. We can draw all the inspiration we need from ourselves right now. I’m letting go of any notion of controlling the outcome of my life, whatever form it might take at any point in the future. I’m letting go of what I’ve experienced in the past. Every time I think this, I become more resolute, and it seems that things just resolve themselves. Not a bad way to start 2011.

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