Janu-cynical

disco-ball-blue January. It’s my twelfth favorite month. Sober. Somber. And cold. What’s not to love? Tis the season to collect the bills and step on scales. It’s time to pay the piper. I’ve never quite understood what exactly the piper did to demand payment, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with not telling anyone what happened to the peppermint bark, truffle fudge, and almond bread that mysteriously vanished from our kitchen.

So long Yule season. In sweeps January like a burst of arctic air. And I wake suddenly from my indulgence induced stupor and breathe deeply. In the stark light of the new year, I take a moment to reflect on my current status and come to the same inevitable conclusion.

I kind of suck.

Yep. January bites. This month is all about the collective social guilt of not quite living up to one’s potential. To counteract this cold reality, we make resolutions. And talk incessantly about “new beginnings” and “fresh starts”. Gone is the madcap gaiety of December. Here come the MINUTIA filled diatribes on “getting it together” in the New Year. That’s right. Get it together, Harriet.

This year it’s hard to sit and listen to latest version of “the plan.” All this buzzing makes me want to hide somewhere. Or punch someone in the face. I think it might be the lack of caffeine. Or maybe it’s that my body is used to consuming 2 pounds of refined sugar a day. I’m on day six of my cold turkey regimen. And all I have to show for it is the shakes.

Sheesh. I don’t want to be a puddleglum. I’m usually first in line for setting goals. The world is full of awesomeness. I want to be a cheerleader. I want to see the “possible”. I want to… I don’t even know what I want.

Besides a cup of coffee.

With every passing year, I find myself just a little more Janu-cynical. The month swarms with good intention and planning and goal setting. “It’s not that you’re a failure. It’s just that you need the right tools/plan/gym membership to succeed.” Tools. Tools. Tools. A diet involving only “orange foods”. An exercise program that promises instant results using a recycled rubber bands and a couch cushion. A financial workshop guaranteeing 7 figures in a matter of months while not even shedding your bathrobe. Hope appears to be selling for $129.99.

I listen while sipping water. And it all tastes a little like…what?

Like water.

Slightly bitter. Water is definitely NOT coffee.

I feel like a cat. Gigantically yawning and stretching while the world gets busy. I don’t feel like reaching for the stars. Or making a new tomorrow. Or living my best life. Or even putting on my big girl panties.

I feel tired.

And slightly apathetic. And if I were to let a feeling register, I would say I feel alarmed by my lack of feeling. What happened here? I’ve always been game for adventure, bolstered by the belief that problems have answers. We just need to be positive. Be creative. Keep moving forward. Even if only an inch at a time. Stay open in the heart and head.

But the doors feel closed. Maybe this is middle age. Maybe this is what “getting old” feels like. My New Year’s resolutions go unwritten. A blank page in my journal I have no desire to fill. Perhaps I need counseling. Or caffeine. Or salt. Yes, definitely salt. Potentially, this unsettled state could be solved with a Happy Meal.

Do they even sell Happy Meals in January?

It’s raining with little bits of ice mixed in. I know. Absurdly apropos. Perhaps I need a giant shot of hormones. Or an extraction of hormones. Or maybe just some sunlight. Or hormone laced coffee in a tanning booth.

To avoid this morose thinking, I watch a gripping episode of Judge Alex. I find watching pathetic losers on TV completely entertaining.. It feels good to watch people who “officially suck” more than me. Television is the best thing ever. As I watch a lady with an ample bosom and plunging neck line address the judge, I think I can identify some of my cynicism.

New Year’s Resolutions are too secondary to be much good. Too close to the surface. Our goals are face lifted and prettified. Because we all want to work on improvement without taking a good, nasty look at the problem.

Here is what we resolve. “I want to get in shape and lose weight.” But that’s secondary. There is stuff going on at a deeper level.

In the dark end of the closet, we find an internal dialogue. “I have loathed getting dressed in the light every day for the last 10 years. I hate myself. Hate. And food is a self medicated quick fix that enslaves my waking hours. I can’t stand the thought of living this way but I haven’t a sliver of hope of actually succeeding. Because food will always be a momentary respite from living as me.”

Hmm. That kind of truth is just uncomfortable. Better just talk about the scale.

Secondary goals usually fail. Who cares if you get new tires when the car is out of gas? Here is what we resolve. “I want to be a better communicator with my spouse.” So very safely secondary. Still water runs deep. “I don’t even know who this person is anymore. Why are we together? Did I ever love him? Does he love me? What will happen when the kids are grown? I’m so incredibly bored but I don’t want to end up losing everything.”

But these questions have no easy answers. Certainly nothing that could sell well in a 60 minute infomercial. So let’s just give the gravestone a makeover.

Perhaps my apathy this January stems from my own track record. I think all the bustling about is a monumental disservice to actual growth. Like a cosmic shell game I just can’t win. I sit still for a minute and listen to the emptiness of icy rain hitting the window.

What do I really want? What do I really need?

How much better will my life actually be if I fit into those jeans in the back of the closet? Or if I hit a certain figure in my bank account? Or get the new position? Make the move? Go back to school? I will still be me. Maybe thinner. Maybe richer. But still this person. This soul.

Judge Alex’s hammer interrupts my thought as he pronounces a verdict in another bizarre domestic dispute. Seriously, where do they find these people so incapable of helping themselves?

Hmm. So much of January “self helping” is an illusion. Keep reworking the equation. Move the puzzle pieces around. But I wonder. At the end of the day. At the end of the month. The elements of my nature remain. Perhaps I am an apple and I will never be an orange. Maybe the key to my future is not so much about changing who I am. Maybe it’s finally understanding who I am.

Whoa. That sounds way too mature and mystical. But I wonder. Why do I keep trying to be something I am not currently?

It seems in this tired state of “mid life” that my glasses have been knocked askew and what once was laser focused is all slightly blurry. My basic hard wired desires are still intact. I still want to avoid pain and suffering. I want to be admired. And respected. And known for stellar hygiene. But in a softer way.

If I peel back my top layer, what do I really want? This year had some hard doses of reality. I am aging. Life is transient.

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” So much truth in found in overwrought 70’s programming. It’s happening. Life slips by faster every day. Working hard for material gain has definitely lost some allure. Playing “the game” seems kind of ultimately pointless.

If I were to care enough to write a New Year’s resolution, it must stem from a deeper part of me.

Here at the surface, I want to be thinner, and prettier, and richer. I want success without much work. I want respect without much responsibility. I’ve always wanted these things, but I’ve disguised my desires in socially appropriate dialogue. Shallowness must be covert.

But my shell is a little worn out. It might be easier to go a little deeper now. Underneath it all, what do I want?

I sit alone with Judge Alex, no wait. We’ve moved on to Judge Mathis.

And this thought registers.

I want to go to sleep a little bit content and wake up a little bit excited.

Really. That’s it? Am I this simple? Could it be that I’m not a deep person with a shallow veneer but actually a shallow person? I look for something more substantial. Nope. Nothing else in there. I turn off the television and stare into the misty gloom outside. “God, really? Am I so shallow that I want nothing more than a comfortable couch?”

Gah. Even when I’m trying to be legit, I’m hollow.

I may or may not have fallen asleep at this point. But eventually, I tuned back in. And the room had grown dark. And in the darkness God responded. “None of this is from Me.”

“What?”

“I did not create a month to highlight your inadequacies. I am not holding a list of your failures. I love you completely this instant. I could never love you more.”

“I know. I know. But I want to feel worthy of your love. I want to feel deep or meaningful or something. I’m tired of feeling shallow and weak and you know…not really needed.”

“I am God. I do not need you. Something better. I want you.”

I sat in the dark and wondered if I could ever fully embrace God’s love. Overwhelming. Complete love. Unconditional. Undeserved. There always seemed to be some barrier to full acceptance. My logic. My strength. My plan.

I am no different than the parade of pathetic sheep that file into a television courtroom. My desire to help myself, my feeble effort to “start fresh”, my anthem to “be my best self” are all snares blinding me from getting to the core of the matter. No wonder I’m so tired. I cannot change my elemental make up. Only the author of life can change the original equation. Any effort that doesn’t embrace Him solely as the power source is futile. Secondary resolutions are as effective as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. We might feel successful while the band is playing, but the iceberg is waiting.

Ice, ice, baby. Waiting in the dark.
I wanted a primary resolution. Something from the source. And these words bubbled up from a hidden corner of my soul.

“God, I want to surrender fully to your love. I want to walk around inside it. I pull it over my skin in the morning and roll up in it at night. I want to breathe your love in and exhale your love out. I want your eyes to open mine. I want your heart to beat inside this body. And I want to be free to rest knowing your love is complete. Total. And sufficient for every single moment. I need. I want. I want to need only you.”

And sweetness invaded the dark. My goal was to not to change me. But to spend time exploring who I really am. A child of the One True King. However far I plunge the depths, God is deeper still. Calling. “Follow me. Let me show you a life that is truly life.” I felt genuinely motivated. Not to move. But to stop. No more Ninja kicking in the dark. Stop and surrender to the love. I sensed all kinds of goal setting in the near future. But now the disco ball was plugged into the only real power source.

January rolled out before me. A beautiful blank page in my journal. Filled with His potential. My role, my job, is not more work. It’s more surrender. And I got off the couch and cranked the Bee Gee’s to full volume. “Ok. 2014. Let’s kick it.”

by Hollylu

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