I don't make New Year's resolutions. Resolutions are thoughts, good intentions, but they tend to fall apart when they get to the action stage - at least they do for me. I work on effort, or attempts at effort, and I put them in to practice as the situation arises.
Often as not, those situations arise about this time of year, after a period of indulgence in which there's been too much "stuff" and not enough doing - meditation slides, yoga classes take a break, cold days curtail walking. By the first week in January, I've had enough. My temper is short, my grievances are long - I would have been a wonderful participant in Festivus. While I'm not quite howling at the moon or growing hair on the backs of my hands, I want to get back to my routine, my yoga, my work. I need to get back on my cushion.
Routine can be wonderful, helping me plot a steady course through life, keeping me on track for what needs to be done now; however, too much routine can leave me in a rut, plodding along doing the same things the same way, dulling me down so that I miss adventures placed in my path. I need challenges to balance my habits.
Everyone should do scary things in their lives. Whether those scary things involve travelling to exotic worlds, bungee jumping or simply rearranging the furniture, a shift in perspective can change your view of life, making everything seem fresh.
Notice that I say "do" rather than "experience." Life is full of scary things, most of them not by choice and many of them not by our making. Illness or adversity may add spark to a dull life but that's not the kind of challenge I'm talking about here. When facing those challenges, it's tough enough just to keep your act together, never mind trying to appreciate the adventure of the experiences. It's the things we do by choice that keep our minds active and our options open.
What am I doing to ward off the werewolves of discontent this year? It's a biggie - I'm going back to school. It's only one course, but it's a full credit course involving academic papers, midterms and a 3 hour final. It's been a while since I've taken university classes; the last time I did this, tiny dinosaurs roamed the hallways. (Well, maybe not quite, but the women in the Registrar's Office were mightily impressed by my old student card with the embedded metal plate which was used, as I had to explain, to make carbon copies of everything. I'm sure they were also stunned by how much I still resembled my very young self, although they were too polite to say so.)
The class? Yoga: Teachers, Texts and Techniques, taught by Colin Hall, co-owner of the yoga studio where I practice. Before you assume this will be a cakewalk, let me tell you that, as a yoga instructor, Colin is a tough master who expects the best of his students. The main textbook contains 18 chapters on the history of yoga and its schools. I hadn't made it past the introduction before it dawned on me that I might have a bumpy ride.
That's the point, isn't it? When we act outside of our habitual selves, we have to stay alert, awake to all possibilities before us. Off I go, silver bullet, or at least a shiny new silver pen, in hand.
Which reminds me - I need a haircut.