I’m always a bit anti-New Year, probs stemming from my 16 year old heart being broken in the snow by some guy who was totally not right for me anyway. But actually, I always think saying ‘I’ve had a great year’ or ‘I’ve had a terrible year’ is just far too simplistic – I’ve always been convinced time knows not what day it is, things just happen and said things coincidentally conglomerate/congeal within a certain 365 days. It was only a few hundred years ago we celebrated our new year in March (appelled Lady/’s Day so of course that had to change, can’t have women owning the year 😉 ) so Gregorian January 1st doesn’t really hold much meaning for me.
I guess what is important is reflecting. I just feel it’s important to do this any day you ruddy feel like it, sod the date or the strike of Big Ben or waiting a year. Perhaps part of it is because I have no need to genuflect, to answer to anyone other than my own conscience (and that doesn’t mean I think I’m always right – well, mostly not), I am not a fan of new year resolutions or this idea that you wake up on 1st January and suddenly life will be different.
So I suppose if I was to say a lesson I have learned within the past 365 days for me, it is this: I believe I have that inner poking finger that presses on my gut when I am about to do something a bit off, not quite right or horrendously offensive and I have been increasingly out of touch with this, my conscience, for too long and now, finally, I am starting to listen.
It took quitting my job, choosing a marriage that was all ours, spending time with terminally ill people, getting back in touch with true friends, keeping in touch with some of my brilliant students, honouring people I care about at the final celebration of their lives and realising some of the transience of material things to get me here (still love Oliver Bonas/shoes tho).
Socrates called it his daemon (way before the wonderful Mr Pullman); Lao Tzu’s sayings discuss the wisdom warriors and the simplicity of being true to our instincts and Freud, for all his sexist ‘hysteria’ drivel, related it to an overseeing superego, checking our integrity and choices. I know when I am making the wrong decision for myself and for others, it’s this zigzag of sad lightning I get in my gut from which comes the burn of anxiety and that slightly nauseous feeling leaking from my inner cauldron of dread and guilt. I wonder when and where I learnt that it was ok to ignore those incongruent feelings, my conscience.
- Getting up at 6.30am to go to work yet having insomnia until 3am did not make me feel good.
- Wasting my time marking 30 essays that never got read and annihilated my spare time did not make me feel good.
- Filling in spreadsheet after spreadsheet reducing beautiful, unique teenagers to robotic numbers and statistics did not make me feel good.
- Saying I was ok when I was not did not make me feel good.
- Turning up to events I didn’t want to be at did not make me feel good.
- Appeasing people that never wanted to be appeased and did not want to like me, and actually didn’t deserve to, did not make me feel good.
- Twisting myself into some expected woman-wife-mother shape did not make me feel good.
- Constantly worrying I didn’t look attractive/slim/feminine enough did not make me feel good. [FOR WHO?!?!]
I have also accepted I still know nothing and I like that. I love learning and searching and discussing and ranting and fighting for what I believe in and doing things that feel good. I realised I was not a tree and that I could absolutely move, so I did. Tough it has been, sure, chopping down the suffocating jungle but the path that is clearing is kind of beautiful.