I think it’s funny how we choose to turn over a new leaf at a time of year when all the past year’s leaves have fallen. The old leaves have been raked, composted, or burned. And it’s not like the new leaves will be coming in anytime soon. Often, we have to wait at least 4 months to see any hint of life from those tired branches, looking like skeletons scratching the sky. Yet, nature teaches quite a bit. It’s where I’ve learned some of my most valuable lessons. So I think there’s a lot of symbolism packed into the “new leaf” metaphor for resolutions.
There was a while that I refused to make a New Year’s resolution. I thought, if you want to make a change, why not just do it? Why wait until the New Year? Part of this stemmed from my irritation with the hordes of people flooding into my gym every January, when I was there every day, every week, every month. I think the bigger part of my aversion to resolutions came from disappointment, after seeing so many new gym-goers give up after a few weeks. It made me feel disheartened, and my outlook on resolutions became jaded for several years.
In 2015, I decided to try making a resolution again. My resolution? Give up multitasking. What?!! That’s a pretty crazy thought in a society driven by the concept of “more”. But I realized that whenever I tried to multitask, I just did two things halfway. It took me longer to do them both at the same time, and I was never happy with the results of either task. At the end of the day, my to-do list was checked off, but I felt unfulfilled. I hadn’t poured my heart into anything I’d done. Making this resolution forced me to focus on doing one thing at a time. I found that each task was done faster, better, and I was happier with the end results. I still catch myself trying to multitask from time to time, but overall, giving up multitasking has brought me greater quality of life.
Last year, I tried to tackle another habit of mine: apologizing for everything. Living as close to Canada as I do, I frequently find myself saying sorry. (Sorry, Canada.) Of course, there’s a time and place for apologies, and they are certainly very necessary. But I found myself taking blame and apologizing to avoid conflict, or to ease my own unnecessary guilt. So, instead of apologizing, I aimed to say thank you. For example, “I’m sorry I’m late” turned into, “Thank you for being patient with me.” This new leaf was not so easy for me to turn over. I wouldn’t say it was a success, but I do still think about it from time to time. And I try.
I’m still thinking about what I’ll resolve to do this year. Maybe something with time management. Maybe something to give up. Maybe trying to get a little less heated and a little more patient. There’s a whole year ahead of me, and now is the time to do things differently.
You see, I’ve come to realize that January 1 is the perfect time to make a change. First of all, you have an entire empty calendar spread out before you. You can do with it whatever you’d like. Second, don’t we instinctually follow the patterns of nature?
I think we turn over new leaves in the dead of winter, not only because an arbitrary New Year begins, but also because of what’s going on outside. The world is grey. It’s cold. It’s dark. There are no signs of life. Yet under the surface, things are happening. The leaves will grow, and spring and summer will be filled with life. Then in the fall, the leaves will change color, rewarding us with the beauty of the efforts of growth. That reward becomes a part of the year, something that lasts for a short time before it’s time to prepare for more new leaves.
So don’t give up on your resolutions, just because you don’t see the results right away. It may just take a couple of months for the new leaves to grow. And those leaves will bless you with the beauty of the reward.
It’s Dark, It’s Cold, It’s Winter – Sleepmakeswaves
“Don’t let me into this year with an empty heart.” – Empty Hearts, Josh Ritter
“I love the past so much because I love the present. I know I have to go into the world and become shaped, altered, bent, myself – individuated – and that there will be pain and joy in the process. I am not the land itself, neither am I a clone of my family. But the magnitude of my attachment to these things – and the stability it affords – staggers me. What strengthens or protects these things strengthens and protects me; that which harms them, harms me. There is still a connection to these things.” – The Sky, The Stars, The Wilderness by Rick Bass