It happens every January, like clockwork. Millions undertake a lifestyle of promised purity and resolution on the first of every year. New plans. New rules. New you. Despite our most hardened abilities of adherence and dedication, these resolutions are time and again undermined. We set restrictions on ourselves. We set guidelines for what we should be, what we shouldn’t be, what we can’t be. We have a vision of what we will be if we hold fast to this agreement with ourselves, and we ask Time to lend us a hand in success. It happens every January, like clockwork.
“It’s going to be easy,” we lie. “I’m determined,” we think. “This time is different,” we’re sure. But we don’t really know. We speak in terms of lofty goals and of unassured successes, promising ourselves that this is IT. This is our year. Time will tell and time heals all and this too shall pass. Right? Maybe. It isn’t given, and furthermore, the misconception is clear: Our resolute lifestyle is what we bring into being, not what is simply meant to be.
Around the turn of the year, I listened carefully as people around me abhorred their previous behaviors and demanded themselves a new “them.” They weren’t going to drink anymore. They were going to be themselves, minus 30 pounds and three dress sizes. We set resolutions, but so many fall at the hands of everyday temptation. A beer after work. Skipping a workout. First it’s one time, then, before we can scratch a mulligan and a do-over onto our personal scorecard, the year is down the drain and we’re left tapping a foot in insecure cadence, awaiting the transpiration of another 12 months.
We treat Time like it has real power, like it’s the reason we succeed. But Time is only a mere measure of our success. Time is not the powerful drug. Time is not the key to cleansing. The forgotten piece of resolution exists within. We are the missing piece. I am, for me, just as you are, for you. The world is big—and we are small, very small, near microscopic in the grand scheme of 365 days and six billion individuals. In January we make ourselves promises that are either kept or broken, but only at the expense of the individual.
We lead busy and bustling lives in a culture of continuous acceleration. Every day, something more is added to our proverbial plate, beckoning us to indulge. Our ambition shrinks along with the willpower that’s so fundamental to personal regeneration. We take on the world in doses higher than we can handle, denying our own limits. Before we know it, we’re caught within the confines of the eerily familiar Square One.
Consider each of us the handler of our own puppet, the controller of raising arms, blinking eyes and speaking mouths. We lie in the beds we make, whether those beds are clean or occupied or comfortable or none of these. We add the necessary crescendos to the everyday monotony of puppeteering our own bodies from high overhead. We determine if we walk benevolently among the angelic or dance defiantly and passionately among the devilish. We’re told that these angels and devils are the ones that determine our fate—but we’re wrong in thinking so.
Perhaps you made a resolution for yourself this year. Perhaps you’ve already failed. Consider the inception of each morning comparable to that of each New Year. Every single day is a small battle—some days a harder fight than we can handle. We consider the New Year an immediate and faultless inauguration, a remedy to all of our personal shortcomings—and maybe it is. Maybe we are brand new and fresh and purged of our weighty insecurities and faults—but only until we get out of bed are we without a challenge. It is only until we go to work the next day. It is only until we open our pantry or our wallet when we feel ailed of our prior problems. Challenges rear their malevolent heads, seeking our failure. But we cannot depend on trust and care from the rest of the world, nor on the passage of Time, but only on the individual.
We are brand new every morning. Every single sunrise. The challenge is to remain new. To stay fresh, to resist falling victim of what we begged Time to destroy. But Time is just a measure. We are our own puppet masters, and only we can create the new. Not a clock. Not Time. Not a blank calendar page full of 31 tiny, square date blocks. Just us. Every single morning.
Ashley Camano is a Trinity junior. Her column runs every other Friday. You can follow Ashley on Twitter @camano4chron.