Little Rabbit, Big Carrot
Happiest of Happy New Years to all of us! I was going to say that 2012 is upon us, but it has already barreled through the door. Since I like to pretend it’s December 27th for the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve (maximum pyjama-wearing and holiday-baking-eating!), I generally feel a little sluggish and unprepared for the new year. That might also be because I’ve been eating fudge every single day for the past two weeks. It’s the candy of candy!
Even though I’m feeling a bit scatterbrained and fretting that my 2012 calendar isn’t up yet, I’ve been mapping out my visions and schemes for 2012 in the midst of the merry whirl of Christmas activities. I usually hate change, and despair that another year has slipped away so quickly (maybe it’s all the fudge that’s responsible for the dramatics), but I’m ready for 2012. Frankly, 2011 has kicked me in the teeth- -over and over- -and didn’t even apologize for breaking my retainer. Wow, what a year. Worldwide, it was a year that we really stood up to the fight, and on an itty-bitty- individual level, I did, too. Not in a political-economic protest sense, but just in living courageously in the face of some way-harsh-Tai adversities. This past 2011 shall henceforth be known as The Year of Character.
To be sure, 2011 brought along some life-altering gifts: giddy, joyful reunions with both silver and gold friends, a dazzling and imagination-boosting trip to Las Vegas with my then-boyfriend and his family, a leather jacket that I’ve been pining for all my life (fine leather goods!! Yes!), as well as exciting work gigs like conference-planning for The Canadian Museum of Civilization, copy-editing and general-persnickety-ness for The University of Ottawa, and charmingly-enumerating for Census Canada. There were newborn puppies, music that changed my world, the fact that I can still earnestly say that a song changed my world, unforgettable small moments of triumph, connecting with mentors and like-minded spirits, eternally-supportive family and friends, writing inspiration, watching the entire series of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” romance, laughing so hard my face fell off, joyfully watching great things unfurl in the lives of my loved ones, and the smug satisfaction of having taken my vitamins regularly. I also discovered “Breaking Bad.”
Yes, 2011 offered heart attacks of happiness on a platter, and then it hit me over the head with it. Plus, the grapes were mushy. In no particular order, here’s the Airing of my Grievances: I started the year off with skin cancer surgery and skin grafts, and continued that enchanting trend into the Spring, where I had another skin cancer surgery on the lower rim of my left eye, immediately followed with reconstruction surgery. While basal cells and cool scars aren’t new to the neighbourhood, this was beyond my comfort zone (er, if one could actually be comfortable when people are hatcheting away at one’s face for fun and profit), and I had to sidle up to some deeply-carved insecurities and fears about health and beauty. The summer brought forth more skin cancer treatments, which kicked my ass more than I’d care to admit. A favourite aunt and dear confidante of my mom was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. We have a lot of reasons for hope, which is glorious, triumphant news, but the initial blow was deep and lasting. Six years ago, she won, and we’re all visualizing another victory. It was a year of major stresses for my parents and siblings, and it’s so hard to watch the ones you love suffer. It was a year of many uncertainties and set-backs for my friends. While I had an abundance of non-monetary opportunities, it was still a year of shaky and scarce employment for me, and the stress of that seeped into every little corner of my life. There was an awful lot of slouching in front of my computer. I didn’t manage to make major coinage, as I had hoped. There was a little bit (and even a little bit is far too much) of comparing myself unfavourably to other people. Deliberate hermitude. Fluttering worries pinioned to the pit of my stomach. And to cap off an agonizing November of silence, I was unceremoniously dumped…on my birthday.
So, December wasn’t all prancing around and Mariah Carey, but I still managed to have fun. I was staggeringly mature about the break-up (after having written some melodramatic e-mails to my friends, obviously), and surprised myself with my humour and resilience. After a reluctant dip in reality, I realized that this was definitely a blessing in disguise, and that the actions of others are in no way a barometre of my self-worth. This entire year has been a test in building character, and I aced it. I might be bruised and hobbling- and where the hell is my hat?- but my heart is open and my smile is so bright, we all have to wear shades.
The Year of Character taught me a great many lessons; pummeled me with them, to be more accurate. The state of my life and the state of my world haven’t exactly been unfolding according to “plan,” and I’ve been angry about it. Really angry, actually. I didn’t really realize the extent of my anger, nor did I come around quickly to even recognizing these hastily-suppressed feelings as anger. I sincerely believed that my guilt and anger at this arrested development (the upcoming AD movie was a massive bit of good news in 2011, by the by!) was important, because it would somehow “motivate me” and “keep me on track to my goals.” Hmmm… O hai, Catholic guilt!
My new plan for 2012 is to let go of the plan. I’m no longer wringing my hands over the way things were supposed to be. I’m letting go of my anxiety-addled expectations that this must happen by exactly this arbitrary date, or I’m this doomed failure of a human being. To clarify, it’s not like I’m going to while away the days in pyjamas covered in a fine mist of processed cheese products, or just give up on everything. I’m still aiming for a year of new love, happiness, health and mucho succcess, but I now realize that I can more easily achieve it by being extra-kind and compassionate to myself and others, and by trusting that this present moment is exactly the way things are supposed to happen. Over-investing myself in an arbitrary plan, trying to control the uncontrollable, and punishing myself when things don’t work out is a sure-fire recipe for unhappiness.
I’m launching a revolution against the tyranny of expectations, and my victory will be sweet. Oh man, that sounded like a voiceover for a second-rate video game for 15-year-old boys, but my background is in War Studies, so I guess you should all just feel grateful that I haven’t made any “you sunk my battleship”-themed jokes. Yet.
You…read my mind, PostSecret
So, what sorts of visions, goals, resolutions, major and/or minor epiphanies do you have in store for the newborn year? I wish that your 2012 is nothing short of magnificent!!
Three cups of holiday cheer, and a cup of an unidentifiable liquid that was pushed back to the recesses of the fridge, to you!