It’s New Year’s resolution time, and that typically means it’s time to recycle my list from last year:
Exercise at least five times a week.
Read more books.
If you’re a task-oriented dreamer like me, you enjoy creating your goals. Nothing brings more satisfaction than making that list and picking the items off one-by-one in front of the firing squad. And if you’re melancholy like me, you will also find yourself feeding your shredder that same list around day 23 as you ride the elevator up to the penthouse of defeat, personal pan pizza in one hand and twitter feed in the other. One thing is for sure. The only crunches that will be happening are from the handful of chips in my mouth.
Of course, I rarely feel guilty about not keeping my resolutions. I mean, I make the same ones every year. But I’ve finally discovered the problem. I’m always dealing with quantitative data, and defeat inevitably creeps in when my numbers get behind. It’s the curse of the melancholy.
That’s why, for this year, I’m going to make my resolution simple. One word, to be exact.
Yep. That’s it.
Ah, yes. Finally. A resolution that is qualitative instead of quantitative.
Technically, I can’t fall behind my goal because all I have to do is be better than I was last year. And that really won’t be hard, because I’ve always been terrible at just being.
You see, I have a disability known as mentalitus interupticus, and it goes something like this: I’m at a Christmas party surrounded by lovely people talking about lovely things, building relationships and making memories, but I’m only partially listening, nodding my head up and down, halfway engaged because here’s what I’m really thinking: Did I rotate the laundry? Great, now I’m going to need to rerun the load. It’s 8:00 already. I hope Brent remembers we need to leave at 8:15. What am I going to cook for dinner tomorrow night? It’s 8:03. My phone is vibrating. It could be an emergency. Why can’t my house just be organized? 8:07. Brent better start winding down this conversation. I’m not joking about my 9:00 bedtime. I haven’t heard back from that email I sent over 2 days ago. Need I read into that? 8:15. Time to dig my elbow into Brent’s side. 8:15 and 30 seconds. He’s still talking. We are going to be sooo late getting home. That means I won’t have a full 8 hours of sleep and tomorrow’s events will be sent into a tailspin. 8:25… He’s a dead man.
See how easy it is for me to sabotage the present?
About six weeks ago, I experienced a moment of personal crisis when my husband went out of town on business. Plagued with off-and-on sickness since summer time, a diagnosis of depression, and a house that hasn’t been completely organized since we moved in three years ago, I melted into an emotional puddle. My brother kindly invited my daughter and me over for the afternoon. While the kids were playing with chalk on the driveway, my brother, his wife and I sat in camping chairs in their beautiful Disney forest of a front lawn, sipping coffee, and talking about life…for three hours. And it was the best three hours I had had in a LONG time. That’s when I realized that is the stuff life is made of. I had made myself so busy, physically and mentally, that I had lost sight of what is important. Relationships and the beauty of nature…everything else is rubbish. I’ve always known this innately, I think everyone does, but to be consciously aware and intentional about just being has caused a paradigm shift, at least for me, someone who has an anxiously loud brain.
So then why am I always so consumed with thoughts that in the long run have very little to do with enjoying nature and the presence of others? Why do I waste my time worrying about an unorganized house? Why do I spend my time half-engaged in conversations because I’m so hyper-sensitive about the time? Why do I allow the chiming of my phone to distract me from the people and experiences right in front of me?
Just two weeks ago, I was visiting my parents in Asheville, North Carolina, and my favorite uncle and his wife came to visit. This past year he was diagnosed with Leukemia, and after a long, hard battle, and what we believed was eminent death, God spared his life and he is in remission. I don’t remember all of our conversation (I blame that on the anti-depressants and not on the importance of the words), but he did speak briefly about “being in the moment.” So much of our life is wasted thinking about future moments that we don’t fully engage and digest the moment we are in. We are busy looking through camera lenses instead of experiencing images through our raw vision. We are so busy thinking about how to make the future perfect that we aren’t fully present.
Relationships. Nature. Being.
Who cares about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself (Matthew 6:34).
I need to just be.
I know, I know. All of the things my brain thinks about are still important. I can’t ignore them. But, I can quiet my thoughts so that I can appreciate the present for what it is. Instead of stressing about my 9:00 bedtime, I can remind myself that the visit I’m having with dear friends is far more important than trying to shuffle them out the door by 8:50.
So for this year, my resolution is simple. I will still need grace. I will still need forgiveness. I will still deal with anxiety from time to time.
But I can’t imagine the beautiful opportunities, memories, and richness that will blossom for me, all by simply being.
Now, pass the pie.