I know you all have them squirreled away in the corner of your notebook now, waiting to head back into the office Monday morning. Those crammed up lists of what you hope will be different or new about 2015 can seem pretty old by the second week in January.
I’m an obsessive list-writer. I write lists of everything. Lists of stories, lists of potential stories, lists of different laundry loads, shopping lists, lists of stores at which to buy each item on my shopping list, lists of things to nag my son about, lists of dog behaviors I’d like to see nipped in the bud around here. It’s just plain terrible.
My New Year’s resolution list is usually very long, and it includes ridiculous demands of myself, like “Learn five languages, build a house, start two new companies and an Etsy store, restore an old Porsche, teach my old dog new tricks, be nice to my ex-inlaws, play the harmonica better than Dylan (this one really shouldn’t be difficult), ride my bicycle across America and take a train across Europe.”
Invariably, I end the year accomplishing nothing on my list, and this year was no exception. I took it out of my crumpled-list drawer last week and realized that, if I were to write a list of New Year’s resolutions, it would look exactly like last year’s. I had to do something different.
I took out a legal pad and began to write a long list of everything I wanted to do this year. It was four pages long and had a bunch of ridiculous things to do on it like “clean the dust off the top of the kitchen window frame.”
Now, a new year’s resolution list isn’t a to-do list. Scrubbing your tile grout, cleaning out the garage, watering your houseplants and being nice to your co-workers have no place on any resolution list. These fall into the category of “the wash is always finished but it’s never done.” They don’t really belong on any list, but they certainly don’t belong on a New Year’s resolution list. This is a huge problem for the list-obsessed.
I put my list away New Year’s Eve and awoke New Year’s morning realizing, for the first time in years, that I had nothing I needed to accomplish.
Somewhere in the distance, a flock of crows was waking for the day. I counted eight and then three ran away. Five is a journey and eight is for grief. The sun crept up out of the Peconic Bay at 7:20 a.m., like it always does on New Year’s Day.
I sat there watching the resolutionless sunrise and then I walked away, into the unknown of the new day.
“It’s always, like, right now,” said that boy, Mason, when he went off to college and became a man in that movie “Boyhood” that so many people saw this year.
If I can remember that one thing this year, that it’s always just right now, I think, just maybe, things will be ok.