Today I want
to resolve nothing.
I only want to walk
a little longer in the cold
blessing of the rain,
and lift my face to it.
Thus concludes the poem ‘New Year’s Day’ by Kim Addonizio, a poem I feel is most apt for this time when status updates and news feeds grow cluttered with new year’s resolutions and cheerleading affirmations. I’m not really a fan … It all gets a bit too pushy and NaNoWriMo for me. Why make a fuss about a specific point in time? Why not instead make something meaningful that works for every day of your life?
A couple of days ago, I stumbled across an article called ‘Forget Setting Goals’. I thought it was another of those cheesy Interweb click-through things, but it offered useful insights in distinguishing between getting things done through setting goals and getting things done through establishing systems and regular practice. We can have both, of course, but the systems are what get the job done, and perhaps that’s where we need to apply ourselves most heartily.
It also made me think about the somewhat grasping character of the very goal-oriented culture we reside in, and how that often gets in the way of the authentic experiences that are probably what life’s really all about at its best: everyday practices, everyday joys, surprises, serendipities, moments of being.
This week we got our first dog. He’s rapidly become one of our everyday joys (even though his favourite chew toys are our socks, with our feet in them). We are well-prepared and well-researched and even neurotic dog owners/guardians/companions, but all that research and planning and neurosis cannot ready you for that moment of being when you bring the sleeping puppy home in your arms. Or for that moment when you are picking up dog shit from a wet back yard. A week ago, I’d never picked up dog shit. Up until a week ago, I was neurotic about picking up dog shit. Up until a week ago I’d been put off having a dog by the very idea of picking up dog shit. I wondered how other people did it, and what possessed them to swing little (big) bags of it merrily as they strolled through the park with their Chihuahuas (Great Danes).
But now, I know something of picking up dog shit. You just get on with it. You just do it. It’s a system, a practice, a moment of being (or maybe a moment of doing …). It doesn’t need a goal. It just needs to be done.
I’m not sure if all this connects or makes sense, but picking up dog shit has meant more to me than any resolution this new year. Kim Addonizio’s poem might be a more lyrical embodiment of this sentiment. She resolves nothing. She just resides in that moment. This is now officially one of my favourite poems.
For this week’s writing experiment: write a poem in the style of ’New Year’s Day’ in which you allow yourself to resolve nothing but simply observe what is around you, making something potent of it all. You might want to give yourself a field trip this weekend in order to give yourself a finite five minutes to write about. You might want to use all the sense experiences in your poem. You should probably be concrete and specific in your use of image and language.
Have a good weekend, and be joyful in whatever shit you pick up too. And meanwhile enjoy Charlie’s moment of being in the garden in the picture above. It’s quite something to behold a tiny little beast’s first experience of the outdoors. He’s a skinny little thing who doesn’t have much meat or fur on him, so he does not like the cold.
But this morning he didn’t run indoors at toilet time. He sat himself down, and he pulled himself upright, curling his tail and most regal in his whippety stance, and he sniffed the air, and he listened to the robin, and he stared into the winter sunlight through his big blue eyes. He soaked it all up, lifting his little face to the blessing of the world.
He needed no resolution for that. He just had to be.
Dogs let themselves be, and maybe we can learn something from that.