Friday, January 1, 2010

It's Gonna Be a Happy New Year

I’ve never really understood the hype surrounding New Year’s. For me, it’s always been a little anticlimactic. What are we counting down to anyway? Confetti explosions? The inauguration of a new wall calendar? Time, itself? Maybe we feel like celebrating the passage of time gives us a little control in its inevitability. Or maybe we all celebrate New Year’s because it symbolizes a new start. Why else would we set New Year’s resolutions?

Still, the new year, complete with all it's fanfare, rarely inspires the lasting goals and expectations that survive the spring thaw. From my own experience, I have found the most ineffective New Year's resolutions are primarily based on our past, not our present. We tend to look back at the people we were in January of the year before and set resolutions for that person. It’s no wonder that depression sets in during the winter months as we desperately look to restore what once was rather than use the present in moving forward. But, I digress...

January 1, 2009

I spent the end of 2008 pretending that I was the exact same person who started out the year. That somehow, the twelve months preceding it were nothing but a safari to some untouched wilderness from which I had escaped unscathed. This jungle of vulnerability, where one meets exotic creatures like romance, would one day be a great source for dinner party anecdotes but nothing more. I assumed that I could simply go back to being resilient, independent, and utterly unaffected. In a word: alone. I was wrong.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent in California that year. Thanksgiving I spent by myself, volunteering at a homeless shelter. I wanted to get lost in the service of others. It had worked for me before. I thought cleaning up trays of jellied cranberries would cancel out any desire to actually connect with someone.

I gave up a little of that pride for December. I accepted an invite to a Christmas Eve party with a family from my church, and spent Christmas afternoon watching a movie with a friend in Hollywood. But, I was home by two o’ clock and passed the rest of the evening feeling ashamed for tearing up during “Love Actually.”

By New Year’s, however, I realized that things would never be exactly as they had been. I had changed. It was an embodiment of what I had discovered in a production of Les Miserables during the previous summer: Those who refuse to accept change as one of the only true constants in life are doomed to be called “the miserable.”

As it turned out, my safari trip of 2008 was far more significant than anecdotal. It was my life. So, I made a new resolution for the new me. I resolved to create opportunities in 2009 to surround myself with those I respect and admire. Why? Because that’s what the new me needed.

January 1, 2010

Well, I did ok. I got sidetracked a few times. I got scared quite a few others. But, in the darkest moments, there was always a little light just a few steps ahead, and I was amazed at who I met along the way.

Some people I met for the very first time. Other people I met despite having known them for years. I met many who showed me my own strengths, and others of whose strengths I admired and sought to emulate. I met people who looked me in the eye at dinner tables, and listened as well as shared. I, myself, learned how to share, not just serve.

Hammerstein’s lyrics became a little more profound in 2009: “Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.”

So what lies ahead for Jeffrey Scott Parsons in 2010? New safaris? Plenty of laughter? Maybe a few, dare I say…tears? Who knows! All I do know is what I need from myself. This year, I’m stating it thus:

To be the person I keep on waiting to become.

“How will he do it?” you might be asking yourself. Well, I still have eleven blogs to go this year. I guess you’ll just have to wait and read. J

To whomever might be reading this now, Happy New Year! You’ve changed. Congratulations! It’s time to enroll yourself as a force in your own evolution. What’s it going to be? I’d love for you to share…