culture & community

‘X’ Marks the Spot (No Resolutions: A Lesson in Letting Go)

by JoAnna — January 23, 2020
It’s getting hot in here… Photo by Natasha Connell on Unsplash.

A healthy hate for New Year resolutions, but taking the time to contemplate what needs to stay and what needs to go in 2020.

I hate resolutions. They feel as contrived as a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Why should we wait until the end of a given year to dream boldly or act wildly? What is point of adhering to an annual marker to shift relationships, jobs, personal outlooks, or drop a few kilos in body weight? 

I think I stopped caring about New Year’s Eve around the age of 31. For what reason, who knows? It doesn’t matter at this juncture. Most of my end-of-the-year celebrations since then have involved low key nights with friends/family. I tend to nest and spend the bulk of the transition period between December and January in wool socks, fuzzy slippers, and my most comfortable pair of pajamas. 

And here I am, pajama-ed up and nursing a cup of golden milk as I consider the ways in which I can reset—if I should do so at all. Resolutions suck because of the pressure and “Go all in!” aura that surrounds them. The best of the best still smack of grandiosity or desperation. The worst are stress-inducing, unrealistic, and contrived

Thing is, I’m not against goals per se. I’m all for clearing out the attic and, invoking my inner Marie Kondo, getting organized. But after back-to-back years of crushing disappointments and quicksand-like slogs the last thing I’ve been interested in is getting oriented and making room on my plate for additional items. Adjust the numbered bib on my shirt? No thanks. I’m perfectly fine taking an extended time-out from the ultramarathon I’ve been running. 

Like Bridget, I felt a little Scrooge-y over the holidays. Sweats were favoured over sequins. I recoiled slightly when taking in the twinkling lights at Rockefeller Center. I hit play on Nat King Cole’s Christmas album only once—the biggest tell of all. As the days became shorter my circadian rhythm adjusted and body screamed for TLC. When the clock struck midnight on January 1st I suspect the long, dark nights of the soul settled in…but I wouldn’t know because I was in bed by eleven.

Change in orange neon lights. I don't dare to stack new resolutions onto the pile.
It remains one of the only constants. Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash.

Lately, the darkness feels indulgent and friendly, which is why I have offered it, and my casual indifference, a seat at the table. Normally a strong advocate for movement and change, I am over using ‘busy-ness’ as a distraction. I don’t care to stack new goals (aka: resolutions) on top of the tottering pile. Why? It’s. Not. Working. Neither has fighting multiple battles on various fronts. I don’t know about you, but I’m fucking exhausted.

The other day I learned I’m not the only one who feels like they are drifting through the fog in a punctured, sinking ship. At the end of an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act he gets into this, a cloaked mental health issue, in a way that is sly and entertaining. The main takeaway is we are bombarded with so much information on the daily that we’ve gone numb. The glut is causing us to fry. We are short circuiting. 

You need to know about these issues! Did you hear? It’s crazy! Let’s organize! Will you join us? Fight for all the things! Don’t forget to sign that petition!

Every last item on the agenda, and there are hundreds, demands our attention. 

Which they should—to some extent. We need to keep an eye on the climate as much as trade wars and international politics. Inequality is a scourge we can’t ignore, same for sexual harassment, health care gaps, domestic violence, obesity, AI, and every ‘ism’ you can imagine. But Minhaj’s suggestion is to think of this info-tsunami as a host of “tabs” open in our mind’s “browser.” We should keep the ones we are most attached to and hit ‘X’ on the remainder.

doubt I’ll get down to my goal of six but one can dream, right?

This cerebral shedding is a non-denominational fasting for the brain. Give up the issues where you can’t move the needle. Let go of the handful you are too tired to carry. Instead, turn your attention to the things you still have energy to combat. Let others take up the other fights for a while. I mean, what can I really do about fake news or the idiocy of influencer culture? Absolutely nothing…except to take a step back and opt out. 

There’s no point spinning on the things sitting at the periphery. No more fuel needs to be added to the fires of helplessness, melancholy, confusion, sadness, or indignation. The idea of letting go and signing off resonated for me in a way that resolutions or goals never have. It’s an actionable way of reasserting control, even if it does so in infinitesimal doses. 

Having already ‘closed’ some browsers, I can say I already feel a bit lighter, open, and focused. I’m also much more compassionate to myself in a way I haven’t been for some time. There’s only so much grey matter in my skull and I want it to be as effective for as long as possible. To prevent this hard drive from crashing it’s time to slow down and shift my attention. Clean house. Turn on the lights. And get rid of the leftovers. 

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