I love clean slates. I love a morning which is unencumbered by the mistakes of yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. The idea that it all begins now, today, this very moment… It’s intoxicating.

Just the frame of it — today is clean ~ no baggage ~ the first day of this new year ~ makes watching the bluejay drinking from the bird bath, his head thrown back and the water visibly sliding down his creamy blue throat, a kind of miracle. The goldfinches who didn’t migrate, the hawk sitting in the pecan tree just beside the deck — each is a line in the poem of a new beginning.

Perhaps that’s the allure of an after-life, reincarnation, rebirth. The idea that somehow we can make it all right: iron out the crinkles of our lives, patch the torn places of the fragile paper on which we write our daily words and actions. One of the things I love about  Buddhism is the idea that we don’t ignore  our pain — we walk into it knowingly and live within it until it passes. And it works. In truth, everything passes.

I still write resolutions. Promises to the future, despite my love of the present. Today I’ll make a list in the new journal I have ready, setting aside the stuffed Moleskine of the past 5+ months. I’ll begin to collect new ephemera ~ new poems printed out from various sources, photos of family and friends, tickets to special events. I’ll paste in the weather for another trip, a cartoon, even a sprig of weed w/ perfect seed heads.

My resolutions are ephemera, often. Over the years I’ve learned to make fewer, trying harder to keep them. But like my three-inch-thick journal, they’re more reflective of the actual than the imagined :). My intentions are (always :)) good: I will draw more, do more drafts of work in my journal, make it more reflective of my ‘better’ self. But what I (always) seem to end up with is the daily  me ~ a quotidian calendar. Quick-writes in class with students, to-do lists, a quirky on-line horoscope printed for its totally inappropriate fortune.
So here are this year’s resolutions, no less the sincere for the knowledge that they too will pass:

  1.  I will listen more (I’m not promising to talk less…).
  2. I will be more active — both physically and in an engaged Buddhist fashion.
  3. I’ll tackle something hard: a language?  the anthropology of indigenous peoples? my bicycle? Maybe I’ll learn NOT to  fall off in traffic!
  4. I’ll work at my health — all aspects of it.
  5. I’ll practice being more compassionate (instead of blowing up at injustice, I’ll try to come up with real solutions).
  6. I’ll work more diligently — and more often — at my own writing.
  7. And finally? I’ll get outside more — it helps with ALL of the above.

This year, think of your life as a journal, and your resolutions as the ephemera you paste, staple and stitch into its pages. Use a lot of colour. Brass brads and a hole punch. Maybe even glitter! Fill the pages so the back almost cracks :). January 1st of next year? You’ll have your own thick journal of happy days.

Happy New Year!

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