Outside, from the window of my living room, nature looks beautiful and enchanting. The leaves of the trees are dappled with late afternoon sunlight; the golden is soft and glowing, and highlights the dark green strikingly. The sun hangs in a pale, washed-out blue sky, a bright orb suspended high above, whose radiance intimidates you, forces you to shield your eyes involuntarily. Birds chirp faintly in the distance, the soft sound floating over to me on the stillness of the afternoon. I would go and sit outside right now, on the front steps of the porch. But it’s winter, and despite the sun, there’s a bitter chill permeating the air, causing me to abandon the idea. Nature is beautiful, but torturous as well. The greenery is lush, the flowers are blooming, the soil is wet and freshly turned, and the grass newly moved. But amidst the beauty, there is a certain distastefulness as well, tainting the exquisiteness of the scenario. After all, the bees do sting, the mosquitoes do bite, the cold does dig in your bones cruelly, and the crows do caw evilly and whiz past dangerously close to your scalp, sharp talons extended. Perhaps I am a pessimist, always seeking out the drawbacks, combing minutely for flaws, where others would simply be content to lean back and allow the blemishes to escape their notice. Not allowing myself to be contented with the veneer of perfection before me, I always attempt to crack it, to see the layers of rotting misery underneath. Or maybe I am just a realist that sees both sides of the picture, not blinded in the way that optimists are.
Today is the last day of 2011, and right now I am reflective. I am remembering every little thing about the past year, reliving it inexorably. I wish I could say otherwise, but this year has not been kind to me. However, I blame nobody but myself. Life is what you make it, and I chose to make this year terrible. It started out unconsciously, the errors made in innocence; but when the pieces started falling, I did not attempt to stem the flow, only sat back in guilty placidity, hands clasped, and watched the dominoes topple over, one by one. Mistakes led to more mistakes, and before I knew it, they were mistakes no longer, only wrong actions and iniquitous decisions executed deliberately and intentionally. I let my anger and sorrow overpower me, allowed them to sweep me along in their wake. So sick at heart was I over what I had mistakenly done in the past, that I forgot that the future was still free and unencumbered with regrets. I vow never to let that happen in 2012.
It is time for change. I need to believe that, otherwise I will never be able to get through the new year. I know, with a certainty embedded deep in my bones, that I cannot endure another year like this one. For my own sanity’s sake, I need to believe that the person I was this year is not the real me. Otherwise, I will abhor myself. And that would be the greatest tragedy of all, the point where all hope would actually become futile. And in all honestly, I do not believe that the person I was this year was the real me. If it had been me, I would have been happy with myself. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t happy or delighted or even remotely satisfied. I was only discontent and repulsed. And that’s an encouraging sign! I should have been discontent and repulsed. If I hadn’t been, well then, that would have been a cause for proper, justified concern. It would indicate that I was already past saving. But I’m boundlessly happy to acknowledge that I’m not. I can be saved, and will be saved, by no one but myself.
Of course, the concept of saving myself does consist of all those basic goals, steady and reliable, unsurprising, predictable. Study harder, work more efficiently, try to eat healthier, exercise more regularly. I want to lose the extra weight I have been lugging around with me for far too long, peel it off me like a snake shedding old, deteriorating layers of skin. I also intend to continue writing in my journal faithfully, as I have done for the past two years, and to blog with enhanced frequency. I want to interact more with other bloggers, gain new followers and discover many more wonderful blogs. I want to read other blogs with an increased level of devotion, involve myself more in other people’s lives, even if only indirectly, through reading about them, about what they have to say.
But other than those simpler, fundamental goals, I have more diverse ones as well, that are unique to me and my life. I pledge to finally finish my novel this year. Even if it sucks, even if I hate it, even if I think it is the worst piece of bullshit ever written in the history of literature, I will not abandon it. I have had one too many failed attempts. I will not leave a novel half-way through again. I have to see it through to the end. Because knowing me, I will never be truly satisfied with anything I like. So it’s time that I stop letting that be the influencing factor. Instead, I’ll put my own self-annihilating opinions into a box, lock it tightly, and toss the key down a metaphorical well. I also need to continue with my university applications with renewed enthusiasm, as opposed to the lackluster, lethargic attitude I’ve been exhibiting towards the task lately. This year shall be the year of upheaval, of new beginnings. That will be because in this year, I’ll end A Levels, and embark on the university adventure, an undertaking entirely and completely new. It will be the biggest, most shattering change ever for me. The first half of 2012 will be spent preparing for the university experience, anticipating it eagerly, breathlessly, and the second half will consist of wallowing in it, reveling in the experience itself, living it out. I have many roles in life, but at this stage in time, being a student is my primary one. Therefore, the university experience will be my major experiment, terrifying and thrilling all at once.
2011 has not been a complete waste of time, however. It has allowed me to see certain pivotal realizations, and these shall be crucial in helping me to succeed in the coming year ahead. When you have an already existing model of all the things you are not supposed to you, then the plan for the entire year ahead suddenly becomes very focused and clear-cut. Just do the opposite. In a nutshell, 2012 will be the opposite of 2011. That’s my only aim, the only thing I will keep repeating to myself when I forget what it is that I should do next. What to do? I wail in pitiful confusion. And the reply instantaneously bubbles to the surface, reassuring in its synchronized simplicity. Why, just the opposite of what you did last year, silly!
2011 made me see important things that I would not have understood otherwise. It made me see firstly that you cannot run or hide from your problems, because they follow you around like your shadow. They are a part of you; you cannot slice them away from you without splintering yourself. And because your problems are in essence you, escape is impossible. You cannot escape yourself. No matter where you go, there you are.
This past year also made me realize the value of enjoying life. I spent the entire year so involved in planning for the future, that I forgot about relishing the present. I unwittingly allowed myself to despise the present, which in turn, made everything bleaker, including my hopes for the future. It was a vicious cycle that fed on itself, depression relentlessly leading to further depression, stretching on ahead with no possible end in sight. This year, I shall endeavour to destroy this cycle, rip it out from the root. As Vivian Greene famously said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Such a soft, beautiful line! I’ve also realized that it’s true, what people say, about the fact that you think that you want to die… but in reality, you just want to be saved. That’s so true. I’m never going to forget that simple actuality again.
In 2011, Alice In Wonderland and I were one and the same. I had the same problem as her, a problem that she outlined clearly, in the following lament: “That’s the trouble with me, I give myself very good advice, but I seldom follow it.” 2012 shall be all about following the advice I give myself. But I also promise to be less harsh on myself, to expect less of me, to be gentler and less demanding. I don’t want to expect wonders from me all the time. I’m going to remember what Johnny Depp declared: “We’re all damaged in our own way. Nobody’s perfect. I think we are all somewhat screwy, every single one of us.” And other than not expecting myself to be untarnished, I’m not going to harbor unrealistic expectations about life either, desiring it to be perfect or smooth all the time. As someone wisely and anonymously said, “Peace comes not from the absence of conflict in life, but from the ability to cope with it.”
And in 2012, I will be stronger. I will learn to not fall apart or crumble at small, trivial things. I need to roll better with life’s little punches, take the curveballs it throws at me in my stride. I did not accomplish that this past year, but I will do so now. Because as Albert Camus so poignantly said: “Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.”
Okay, I think I’ve insinuated more than enough quotes in my prose now. But I’m quoting others to illustrate my opinions because they’ve already said all that I feel, expressed it in beautiful, all-encapsulating words. I couldn’t have said it all of it better myself, even if I’d tried. Finally, I will end this by announcing that in 2012, I plan on behaving like a duck: it keeps calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddles like hell underwater. A brilliant model of behavior, I think, and certainly one I would like to employ as well.