Military Life

New Year’s Resoluting

December 17, 2012

I’m sitting in “the office” this Monday morning listening to a song on repeat and staring at a blank journal page.

I have a theory that scarves are most appropriate on Monday mornings, since starting a new week is a brave, lonely endeavor and everyone could use the extra support of a permanent hug around their neck.

Mondays require everyone to begin a task without momentum. So I launch into most Mondays with a full cup of coffee and a skeptical eye to the future. My attitude improves midway through my second cup of coffee and/or when the elasticity of my jeans cuts me a freaking break. I hate when jeans make me honest first thing in the morning.  Especially on Mondays.

For inspiration, I follow the Storyline Blog , the brain child of the cool-without-trying Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz fame. The blog is all about intentionality, being proactive, and making resolutions. I’m on board with D. Miller. (Yes, I arbitrarily shorten celebrity names to feel close to them).  But seriously, I’m on board and today I’m trying to be all things D. Miller encourages me to be.

But on this Monday morning my journal page is blank.

Every time I start resoluting (a noun I turned into a verb),  I end up journaling about contingency plans. “If we get stationed here, then…. If I change jobs, then… If the weather is sunny and my pants fit a certain way, then…”

I’m awesome at resoluting in a safe, ambiguous way.

The thing about military life is that every home has a two or three year expiration date, so it’s easy to use this lifestyle as a scapegoat.  It’s easy to stall in half-baked ambitions and accept a constraint as a summation of your entire life.

BUT… as I round the final bend of my second cup of coffee, I get a little feisty and a little restless and start writing.

Because everyone has to fight for continuity in a world that changes all. the. time.  The military isn’t an excuse, it’s just an adjective turned into a verdict. Everybody has a word like that.

The biggest fight in resoluting is not against constraints or circumstances or people. The biggest fight is against the victim version of yourself.

So this morning I’m writing down a list of ambitions. Some of the ambitions are quantifiable goals. Some of them aren’t.  Some of my dreams have to mature a bit more before I know what to call them. So I write down as much as I know.

Searching for resolute dreams is like jeans shopping. It is a long, searching process that calls your whole identity into question. Every once in awhile you find a pair that fits just right. And you wear them for years until they fall apart. Then you must move on, looking for a new pair that fits like the old pair.

And it’s a minor heartbreak to move on to new jeans, like a new dream you have to break in.

Everyone has lots of dreams in their closet: some that fit on some days and don’t fit on others. And everyone has a dream or two that fits all the time, a dream with just enough elasticity and strength in the seams to accommodate a whole self.

Perhaps resoluting is more like cleaning out your closet.  It takes an account of what you have to figure out what needs to be replaced. You might even rediscover a dream that was hidden in the back of the closet.

Somehow resoluting feels safer when I mix what I already have with a little bit of optimism and potential. I’m not starting over, just building a more exquisite wardrobe.

With a cup of coffee in hand, I invest in new jeans, try on old ones, and with a supportive scarf around my neck I charge into a brave new year.

  • Michael

    “Because everyone has to fight for continuity in a world that changes all. the. time. The military isn’t an excuse, it’s just an adjective turned into a verdict. Everybody has a word like that.”

    So good! I am impressed by your writing every time I read it. I’m pretty sure D. Miller needs to read this too.

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