I’ve always loved New Year’s Resolutions. I love the idea that I am striving for something new, looking to constantly improve, and taking on a new challenge.
One year, when I was in my 20s, I made a resolution to visit a dozen new countries. Another year, when my kids were all really small, I aimed to cook a real dinner every other night. In 2017, Shawn and I both decided that we were going to throw more parties and spend more time with our friends.
2017 was my last year of New Year’s Resolutions. When people would talk about resolutions in 2018, I merely said, “my goal is to survive.” The next year, I had a “year of yes,” where I tried everything, which is sort-of like a resolution, I guess.
But in 2020, I want to have a bit more clarity.
It makes sense. 20/20 denotes perfect vision, and though I know I can’t aim for any sort of perfection this year, I like the idea that (like my eyesight), 2020 might be the year where I have a bit more clarity on what I want from this world.
I mean, what I actually want this year is for Shawn to be alive again. I want for me to not be a widow and for this blog to not exist and for the biggest drama in my life to be that I feel a tiny bit bored.
But that, of course, is not the reality in which I live. For much of the past two years, however, I have tried to re-create the life that I had until early 2018. I have tried to keep the exact same friends and do the exact same things in my community. I have tried to host the same parties and get into a relationship that could mimic the one I had with Shawn.
And I have failed. Sometimes things have gone well in my life, and some of the parts of my life are the same as they were back when Shawn was alive. But for the most part, when I’ve tried to just re-create my pre-2018 life, it’s been a disaster.
I was on a long run the other day, and I started to think about running as a metaphor for the past few years. Since Shawn died, I’ve spent a lot of time running away from the pain and the other terrible things that come from being a widow. I’ve tried to get through the bad stuff and hope that good stuff comes my way. I try and just keep moving.
Recently on my runs, I’ve started to pass by the National Cathedral here in Washington. Because I run so early, I’m often passing it as the sun is rising. Bright reds and oranges and pinks frame the cathedral and it seems quite otherworldly. I love it so much that when I’m running really early, sometimes I’ll take a break and wait a few minutes for the sunrise to really appear and light up the walls of the cathedral. Even when a shorter run would make my life easier, I run towards the cathedral.
Actually, I like the metaphor in that previous paragraph. Rather than running away from my life, I like the idea that I can start to run towards something. To be clear, I don’t want to run towards a new man, one that would perfectly replace Shawn. I don’t want to run towards totally new friends. I don’t want to run towards a new life.
What I want to do, instead, is to be able to do what I do every day at the National Cathedral: run in a direction that makes me happy, towards something I know will fill me with joy. And when I get to that place, I want to look around and appreciate it.
I always loved New Year’s resolutions before Shawn died. I liked the idea of constantly improving my life. But trying to do that after he died has made me unhappy because it’s shown me everything that I’m missing and can never, ever replace.
So this year, I’m not setting any specific resolutions. Rather, I’m going to spend more time trying to appreciate the beauty in this life I’m living. Yes, there’s a goodness in striving, but there’s also a goodness in looking up, seeing the pink of the sky as the sun rises, and thinking, “damn, that’s beautiful.”