When I was younger, I made resolutions at the start of the New Year with the kind of frenzied passion that often marks the beginning of relationships. More often than not, these revolved around food – resolutions for preparing it, for eating and enjoying it, for allowing it into my life in such a way that it made barely a whisper of an impact. The control which I granted myself through these resolutions was thrilling – it forgave the recklessness of the previous year (an imagined recklessness, I might add) and implied that in this new year I would be something of a discipline guru. All that was necessary for this transformation was a shifting of hands on the face of clock.
I found myself considering this yesterday. Following an afternoon spent wandering around the Brooklyn Flea, my sister Gabriella and I squeezed ourselves into one of those coffee shop/bar hybrids that flourishes only in places like Williamsburg. There’s nothing quite like rewarding yourself for staying on budget by spending far too much money on a grilled cheese and an overpriced coffee, but the frigid weather we have been experiencing in the New York area makes purchases such as these easy to justify lately. As I tucked into my comforting mess of a sandwich, the contrast between the start of this year and those which marked my early adolescence was striking. I remember ringing in each new year in high school with a rigorous condemnation of old habits and a drill sergeant’s resolve; I convinced myself that I knew the shape of the year to come, as well as how I would mold it to my own purposes.
I do not know the shape of 2014. I’m barreling toward the tail end of my junior year in college, and the future lies beyond me, ringed by fuzziness like an image that hasn’t quite been brought into focus. This is terrifying to me; I cannot pretend that it isn’t, same as I cannot pretend I have a plan whenever anyone asks me where I see myself after I graduate. Many of my friends feel the same, but there are those in my group whose clear vision of what-comes-next inspires me with envy I cannot control. It is this lack of control that grips me with the most fear; I have never entered a new year so marked by an unknowing.
So I have been turning to the small comforts – things like grilled cheeses and hot, sweet coffee, or afternoons reading with a cat curled next to me. Things like complicated conversations over drinks that soften the pang of my own indecision, or afternoons doing little else but spending time with my family. Soon I will head back to school, to another semester of distractions and knuckle-biting deadlines, but for now this time feels sacred. I am learning to accept that I cannot be the discipline guru into which I had fashioned myself in my youth, and this is a new curve for me.
2014 will be the Year of Not Knowing.
And I have a feeling that it will be just what I need.