I follow many great people on Facebook, but one of my favourites is Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild. Her most recent post read:
"Is there ever an end to the daily struggle to be a better person? I'm not asking this rhetorically. I'm wondering if there's a time when you reach it, when you say "I can no longer think of any way to be a better person." (Or maybe there are people who do not ponder every day how they can be a better person?) When I say "better person" I don't mean that I constantly tell myself how awful I am but rather I'm very aware of the ways in which I could've done better as a friend, as a mom, as a spouse, as a sister, as a writer, as a woman with some serious aspirations for this thing called "balance" (ie: time for exercise, lounging, sex, thrift-store shopping, voracious reading). On a pretty much daily basis I think of how I've failed in many of these areas. It's not a self-hate thing, but rather a deep desire I have to someday fall asleep thinking, "Well done, Strayed. You've got it down." I'm reflecting on this as the first day of 2014 comes to an end here on the west coast of America. Not thinking "Well done, Strayed" but thinking instead, "Maybe next year. Maybe tomorrow. Keep going. Keep walking. Just try to do better in every action, intention, thought and deed." Happy new year, my friends. I hope 2014 is a revelation and a firecracker for you."
I'm one of those people who ponder every day how I can be a better person. I reflect a lot on my words, actions and emotions (sometimes this gets me into trouble, as I fall into rumination when I think I've been less than stellar). I'm always striving to better myself, and I'm always making resolutions - New Year or not.
But in reflecting on Cheryl's post, I've come to a realization. When I think about myself as a "better" person, I see someone in the future - someone more organized, less flighty, in shape, eating well and taking time for herself. But this future version of myself is not really me.
The only me that exists is here, right now. Sipping on black tea (dammit, I'm supposed to be drinking green), eating a muffin (it's homemade, so all good), perusing my financial statements (all bad, VERY BAD), reflecting on the friends I forgot to call over the holidays (I'm so sorry), and trying to gather the energy to go for a nice walk - given that it's my lunch break, and I resolved to do more exercise on my lunch breaks!
And yet I also have...
- travelled the world
- overcome personal challenges
- born two children
- received a graduate education
- become (if I may toot my own horn) a pretty darn good chef; in my own kitchen, that is!
- purchased a home that keeps us warm
- landed a solid job that supports my family
- married a man who is also supporting our family by being at home
- time and money to stay healthy and grounded
Maybe 2014 is the year that I say goodbye to the woman I see up ahead in the distance - the me I always imagined I could be. Because the person I've become is pretty darn amazing.
Happy New Year!