Resolutions. I’m always making them.
Any time I have a break in routine, I start thinking of new and more effective ways of doing just about everything. My problem is that I try to change too much at one time, or try to implement changes I haven’t really thought through and planned. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve headed to the store to buy materials for some new “system”–rewards for chores, organizing my closets, planning meals, you name it–only to find myself in the office-supply aisle, not really sure of what I need or what I’m going to do with it; usually I either go home discouraged (with nothing), or buy a bunch of expensive stuff that I’m not sure what to do with when I get home!
There are two main problems with this. First, instead of patiently doing the fairly mundane things required to make progress in any given area, over and over and over, I’m always looking for the quick transformation. In reality, really valuable things take a long, long time; life lived well is very often nothing more than faithfully doing what needs to be done in the moment, and doing it over and over and over. It’s a series of not very exciting things like getting up early, being on time, keeping the toilets clean, and fixing dinner. It’s providing a routine, or a shape, for the truly valuable things that can only occur within routine and structure. It may be cliché, but Rome really wasn’t built in a day! Great athletes spend years in training, great musicians begin by practicing scales and fingerings, and human beings with wisdom and understanding emerge from lives that have been shaped by routine and discipline and frustration and humility.
The second problem is, I think, rooted in discontent, or maybe pride. It’s one thing to want to do your best, but another thing entirely to never be satisfied, or to always want to be THE best—better than anyone else just because you want to be the one on top, or because you want people to admire you. This comes from finding worth only in comparison with others. It ruins friendships and robs the individual of true satisfaction and joy, because it never allows for rest and enjoyment of learning or people or things simply for their own sake.
My resolution for this year, then, is to intentionally live my normal, everyday life more fully—making eye contact with my children and really listening to them, paying more attention to who my students are as humans so that I can encourage them, embracing the inconvenience of putting my husband’s needs and wishes ahead of my own, doing my duty because it’s the right thing to do, whether or not anybody notices. Not exciting, no instant results, but truly life-altering, life-establishing, life-preserving.