It feels like a necessity, an instinctive reaction that stirs in us when the calendar thins out, reaches its final days and one more year has passed.
Whatever your way of seeing the New Year in, as the year ends and a fresh one is set to begin, spending a moment during December (the eye of the hurricane when time seems to slow down) to take a look around you and try to take stock is undoubtedly one of the most important festive traditions… yes, even more important than Christmas pudding!
To avoid the fear of looking at themselves in the mirror – the arduous task of getting to know yourself and reflecting critically on failed challenges and other dreams forgotten through fear or a lack of time – many people seek out sound, fury and chaos so they aren’t left to see themselves as they really are. How do they do it? I bet you know already: they immerse themselves in countless parties and meals, performing a delicate balancing act from date to date and ensuring, first, that not a single gap of time is left unfilled and, second, that everyone knows how ultra-busy they are. Another aspect of this is often about showing the world how afraid they are of the solitude and silence in which, uncomfortably yet reassuringly, we learn to talk to ourselves.
Activity and daily rhythms circumvent introspection and so it is sometimes easier to carry on without reflecting on our mistakes – this is the most common and the most macabre condition, where we live far away from our dreams and go with the flow as the days pass and die away.
I too have lived a life of dinner parties, make no mistake, and when December comes I have learned to stop all my frenzied activity, and instead of making lots of dates, I cancel them all, finding a strange, involving, secure peace and forcing me to see who I was and, above all, who I want to be. I feel like the ghosts of all Christmases future and past. As I have in each of the last few years, I stop and, like every December, I let time amass around me while I look at what has been important to me. I looked at the 12 months which have just passed and think about what I asked of it, what happened, what didn’t, and why.
I see myself as little more than a kid, contemplating the paths I have taken and where they have led me like a map.
So here are 12 wishes for 12 months in a year full of possibilities and energy.
And yes, you have just read a whole article without a single tip about New Year’s resolutions. But why would I trot out all the usual ideas? Those are nothing more than empty suggestions – handy, sometimes, but draconian, generalising and repetitive.
Do you want me to tell you to go to the gym? Why? When what you really like to do is dance. Why would I tell you to learn another language? Maybe you want to do pottery, even if no one understands your nascent passion.
If it’s advice you are looking for, here is what you need:
– Seek out yourself, fearlessly. Look at yourself in the mirror and accept what you see.
– Make small steps that will lead you towards the person you want to be. Take your time – there’s no rush.
– Fight to be happy every day, spoil yourself, and treat others well as a way of seeking out the pleasure of feeling good in yourself. It’s not about grand gestures, but daily acts. Believe me, they are powerful.
– Move, whichever way you want to, but get your behind off the sofa and move however and wherever you want to. Just move: walk, run, dance, jump, do Zumba, go to the gym, travel, stroll, do whatever you want for a few moments, every day. You’re not doing it for your body, you’re doing it for your mind.
– Challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone, do something that frightens you, taking care of yourself all the while – do it little by little, perhaps three times a year to start off with.
– Talk to the people around you, all of them – say hello, even to the lady that sits next to you on the train every morning.
– If you’re a man, please, stop giving women your opinion on their bodies – believe me, we’re not interested. Start thinking of us all as human beings and you too will discover equality and be surprised at the world we can create.
– Man or woman, you’re beautiful just as you are, you don’t need anything more than your smile, which comes straight from your heart. Don’t let yourself be glum, smile and smile again.
– Learn to let things go, learn to lose gracefully, learn that sometimes love can’t solve everything but that learning to stop and say goodbye is one of the greatest acts of love there are.
– Read lots. Read hard copy, read online, read, look for contrasts, search… Don’t believe everything at first sight.
– Look for work which lets you be happy and live tranquilly, whatever your idea of tranquillity is, as long as it’s yours
– From time to time, listen to a child, listen to an older person, listen to your neighbour, your friend, your mother, anyone so long as you listen.
Those are my 12 suggestions.
As I said to you at the start of this article, I believe in looking for new ways of seeing the New Year as the old one ends.
Happy Christmas and all best wishes for the New Year.