I’m no good at celebrations.
Most of the time, I’m skipping forward to goal-setting for the next project – my to-do lists are all in future tense. When I wrote a post on rituals, it was really me creating a resource for myself to go back to whenever I feel like I’ve been speeding up time. But New Year’s comes with a mandate that I should be reflective and sit still for a second. There are no more moments that will be labeled “2013,” so even if it’s not a comfortable ritual, it’s all over pop culture.
For the past five years, I have received a daily affirmation email from a listserv I joined when I was still in high school. Most of the time, they’re generic encouragements that are sent out to the entire listserv, but sometimes there’s a little interjection where whatever you put in when you first signed up (a goal and a state of being, if I remember correctly). For a long time, I did not remember what I had written in; after all, it had been multiple years and I couldn’t imagine where my mindset was in high school. But one day I saw them: my goal was to write every day and my state of being was to craft an artistic and personal style.
A friend of mine recently called me an “aggressive optimist,” and I stand by that, even while I am critiquing any number of social systems. When you work in social movements, whether through direct action or the production of art and ideas, you’re always working towards a future state. You may never see it come to fruition, but you believe that it will come. When you put an intention out into the universe, it is much the same. No matter what form it appears in, I believe it comes back to you. And when I read what my high school self had in mind for me, it reminded me that some part of our past selves comes forward in every future possibility. So while I may be writing in the future tense, I am always calling upon the loving ghosts of the past.
In 2014, I want to draw upon the past to know how I can better serve others in the future. And I want to give myself permission to live in the present. For me, that means applying some of that optimism and intentionality to my day-to-day activities. It means that no matter where I am or where I am going, I trust that this is where I need to be.
So that gets us back to celebrating.
This New Year’s, I am going to quietly celebrate all the life that is to come. I’m 22 and I’ve not yet published a novel – don’t tell my 14-year-old self! – but I’m making good on my writing career. I’m a college graduate that doesn’t yet have a plan for the future, but I’m not yet cynical. I don’t think my artistic and personal style can be anything but evolving, but it has become much more defined. And my passion for social justice work is even more fiery than before.
What parts of you are still growing this year? What parts of you do you feel deserve celebrating? Let me know via Twitter @thecowation.