I’m a pretty introspective person in general, but the end of the year amplified it. Between the year-end lists that chronicle every aspect of life, both personal and cultural (movies, books, photojournalism, our own tumblr posts, trips, events, songs, outfits, celebrity break-ups), and the forced reflection turned to resolutions, I am all introspected out.
I don’t care too much to quantify what happened in the past year. Heck, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that things shift in flavor over time – some good things remain good, and some bad things remain bad, but there’s surprising nuance. I mean, with enough time, even the dreaded middle school years don’t seem quite so terrible.
I don’t care too much to plan for 2012. Gym every day! No more procrastination! Take at least three trips to new places! Grow as a person! I’ll read books instead of dicking around on the Internet and Googling pictures of dogs in human clothes! The only resolution/plan for the new year that I’ve ever managed to keep was “watch more movies” and even that dropped off in late November when I realized that I just wanted to watch Coen and Scorsese movies on loop.
Maybe it’s part of my nature – I am a perfectionist. I am meticulous. To quote a very chatty lady I sat next to on an airplane recently, I am a typical first child people pleaser perfectionist. If it didn’t drive me crazy, I’d have check lists for absolutely everything I need to get done. But man, what a shitty way to live.
The best things I’ve experienced were unexpected. They were not the result of me trying to be a better person or fulfill some abstract criteria. They did come from saying “yes” (to steal from the language of self-help books) and they did come from the attitude that trying new things, even if it is just a new appetizer at the weekly dinner date restaurant, can be an adventure. For me, resolutions and year-end retrospection pull me into this morass, this sickly thick spider’s web of assessment, reassessment, and measurements with arbitrary yardsticks. It sucks the jubilant optimism of a new beginning out of the new year and replaces it with anxiety about getting the next one right.
The next one will never be right – it’ll involve unexpected pain, terrible mistakes, embarrassment, heartbreak, shock, broken resolutions, and stomach viruses. But for all of that, it’ll also bring unexpected joy, moments of transcendent beauty (the Romantics weren’t totally off-base), new friends and experiences, surprise parties, and jeans that make you feel like a bad ass. So no, no one will get the next year right, but no one is going to get it wrong either. And to me, that’s the beauty of the new year.