Every year I do the same thing. I think. I have this expectation that this year I will be and do and see and accomplish amazing things. I set my sights so high that if anything less than astounding is achieved it feels as though I let myself down. Not totally, mind you. But a little bit. I start the year with the hope that this will be the year of something. The year I learn to drive a motorcycle, go swimming with dolphins, tango dance in Tierra del fuego, be a chanteuse in a nightclub in Paris (preferably this one, I’ve been there much and their sound man is fantastic) build a rope swing on a property that actually belongs to me, buy a property where I can build a rope swing. The list is extensive.
And so this year, coming up to the end of the one and beginning of another, I had that same feeling of hope intermingled with dread at the promise of what would happen this time around. Hope for the possibilities and dread for the expectations. I still feel like if I was so committed to change, it wouldn’t take the start of a year, but I have to admit that there is a certain freedom, a certain feeling of tabula rasa-ness that comes with a new beginning. When I have a bad day, I go to bed with the contentment that it’s over and tomorrow the slate is clean again. How much more magnified is that feeling with the onset of a new year?
But this year I’d like to change my approach a little bit. It’s the reason I’ve waited until the 4th day, I wanted time to process how I was feeling about it. I even felt a little guilty that I hadn’t written anything leading up to or immediately following the new year. But I stayed the course, waiting until the intention had manifested itself more readily, more serenely, to an extent.
Last year we entered into the year of the dragon according to the Chinese zodiac. I was born a dragon so my expectations that last year would be just incredible for me were massive. Insanely so really. I was driven by the egotistical notion that I could do no wrong whatsoever. And while I did accomplish many awesome things, the year didn’t necessarily pan out the way I had thought it would. Though if I was really going to put so much emphasis on the astrological symbol representing the year, perhaps I should have paid more attention to how well a fire dragon (such as I am) would fare in the year of a water dragon (which has a tendency to temper fire, a fact I chose to ignore).
I realize now that everything I had planned to do came from a place of arrogance at being in the same year I was born into.
Music school audition, the one I expected to breeze through? I choked, bad. Worse than bad, in fact.
The houses I expected to buy, three individual properties this year that I missed making a successful bid on by days. None of those my dream house (which I still believe I will buy someday soon), I was just ready to settle for the comfort of having something that’s mine. Not that I had the resources available to do such things comfortably. I was actually shocked and dismayed when it didn’t pan out for me, regardless of the fact that my financial situation would have required taking on a third job or just hiring myself out for scientific experiments in order to make my mortgage payments.
These are just the largest of the so-called dreams my brain had decided we were entitled to. There were many little expectations that didn’t exactly pan out as expected. In hindsight, not buying property when I couldn’t afford it is likely the best outcome possible. Not being accepted into music school which would entail being in debt for something that may or may not have caused me to end up in the place I had hoped for. Which is simply to be more comfortable around playing and jamming and sitting in with whoever, wherever, whenever. Something I’d likely more easily achieve by just playing more.
I found myself at the end of the year, completely unsure of what’s going to happen next. All my big plans at the beginning of the year had been replaced by a certain anxiety with regard to knowing exactly what I want from life. Which has moments of being terrifying. These are fleeting moments which tend to give way to exhilaration back to anxiety over to excitement, a bit of a roller coaster. It’s one thing to cast oneself in the role of firegypsy extraordinaire at age 17, it’s a completely different role at age 36. Though, that said, with all those years in between, I’ll likely be much better at it now. Hence the feelings of excitement and joy. Perhaps this most of all is an indication that I should just go for that, an organic transmutation of lifestyle, goals, plans and schemes. To not get so caught up in the rigidity of what I’ve convinced myself I want. To give way to the probability of finding exactly what I need.
Don’t get me wrong, the goals still exist. I still want to tango in argentina, I still want to swim with dolphins (not in some aquatic “park”, I prefer my swimming partners be happy and free). I still want to traverse Iceland and dance until dawn in Istanbul and see the giant’s causeway in Ireland. I still want to buy my dream house (710 Wildhorse Creek Road) and build rope swings and have secret garden parties and invite people to come and stay and create because there will be music and art and giggles galore.
I guess I’m feeling as though these goals are all attainable and while it’s certainly good to want for them to happen sooner than later I just don’t feel the same sense of urgency as I did at the beginning of last year. I’ll make my list, it will have things on it that involve more music and rope swings and swimming and stretching and dream house with a garden of my own and surfing and dancing and motorcycle riding and knife throwing and filmmaking and writing and festivals and puppets and roadtrips and singing and work – blissful, satisfying, enlivening, fulfilling, well paying work. All of those things and more. All the dream with the best part of reality and none of the stress when it looks slightly different than was pictured, none of the anxiety when it doesn’t show up by the date expected. None of the expectations, all of the joy.