Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

A better resolution

On the last day of the year, I wake to a quiet house. My mom was up late, preparing for today's festivities, and is sleeping in. The house's central heating hums in an undertone, and overhead some international flight is coming down for landing at the San Francisco Airport. My dad sets coffee to percolate before heading to the gym.

The morning is without urgency. The minutes stretch long.

There is time now. Time to look back across the year, at the photos I took, the journal entries I scrawled, the books I read. I wrote for an hour this morning, recapping the highlights of where I'd gone this year, and I realized that I had written an entry that was not for you, but for me. So I wiped it all, and while I can't take back words I have already said, I think I might re-say the things from my last entry, too. This, then, is for you.

Resolutions are optimistic, yes, but they grow out of failures. Perhaps some resolutions ought to be the resolutions of things that should stay the same. When I look across all that I have experienced this year, I cannot shake my gratitude to people who opened their homes to me, to the people who filled the museums I visited with their creativity and built the landmarks I saw, the people who trust me daily to simply be trustworthy. I cannot shake this vision in my mind from Route 20, coming out of Bryce Canyon after Nationals and three months of nearly nonstop competitions. The light moved out of the west, casting the pine-swept slopes golden and the whole sweet valley before me, the stream a wild snake amongst mottled green grass, and low ridges lurching upward to the sky. I wondered then - will I even remember this? But I do. That and all of it - bobbing in the surf with a snorkel as orange Garibaldis darted into kelpy darkness, stepping out onto a dark dance floor while the Palm Desert sunshine glared outside the hotel venue, watching camp flames consume driftwood for warmth before curling up in my sandy tent out on the Olympic Peninsula, smearing pureed turkey baby food onto a sick puppy's nose to get him to eat, stepping out of the subway station into the canyons of Soho's historic elaborately facaded buildings.

I had coffee a couple of days ago with a woman who has run some large technology companies, and I asked her how to cope with job stress. She gave me the following advice: at 4pm every Friday that I ought to sit down and write down (1) what went well and (2) what didn't go so well. And then, that I ought to close the notebook and forget about it.
For her, this weekly ritual of appreciation and resolution got things out of her head so that she could move on. I think I could apply this tool to many things: dance competitions, cooking, scheduling, and so on. This regular calibration seems more appropriate than expecting that my life could change completely upon the generation of some grand "resolution." It seems also that I might better understand what I want, who I do and don't want to be, what experiences I want to become my past.

My oft-repeated and favorite quote from Annie Dillard is: "Because how we spend our days, after all, is how we spend our lives." And in truth, spending the days helping others, dancing, traveling, living in my apartment (as a sole lease-holder), and making the choice to not give up, not quit, to seek and never to falter: That is real personal freedom.
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