For a long time, I discounted the validity of a new year. It’s just another day, I’d think, we can change at any time. Don’t wait for a specific day to discipline yourself, that’s only an excuse. Just do it now. And so on.
Perhaps I grew so frustrated by the holiday that I lost sight of the ritual. Every holiday is monetized; intention, usurped by presentation. I’ve spent many years studying religion, specifically mythology, yet the ancient rituals that formed the basis of beliefs always seem so far away from modern celebrations.
That, too, I realized was an excuse—my excuse—for not looking past the veneer to gaze into the essence. Rituals require presence. I wasn’t showing up.
The New Year is a societal resetting. Some people take it seriously in form, others in practice, others not at all. Regardless, it’s the moment as a culture we decide to begin again, a glint in Persephone’s mind that soon an ascension will commence. And so for the last few seasons, I’ve taken it seriously.
Moving into 2019, I have a list of three main objectives, but essential to all of them is a singular foundation. Whenever I say the word, “no,” I immediately reply, “why?”
There are mythologies, the height of human imagination pondering the world and our place in it, and there are myths. One of the greatest is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. The narrative we believe is the one we live. Every no reinforces the narrative. By the time we reach a certain age we’ve solidified every negative as fact.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a call for incessant yeses. Discretion is necessary. Discrimination is fundamental. Yes is an equally loaded concept. The problem is we often say yes to what we already love or believe will advance us in some capacity. That which we fear, not so much. That’s where no thrives.
I’ve constructed a variety of narratives about my body, the overweight child, the hospital years from numerous injuries, the lanky adult with long lever length and bad knees, the reasons I can’t do this or that. Given I broke my right leg three times, the imbalance between my right and left hip is, yes, real. But no, these aren’t the reasons certain movements evade my grasp. It’s because I haven’t taken myself far enough out of my comfort zone to test my boundaries. It’s because when I say no, I fail before I even give myself a chance to begin.
When I say no, I reply why. When I force myself to respond to my initial assertion, I hear myself start to tell myself the myths I’ve created, narratives I’ve reinforced through repetition. Suddenly, the story isn’t as appealing. It fails to massage my ears or comfort my mind. Instead, it invokes the nervous apprehension that despite all those mythologies I’ve had faith in for so long, I’m failing to enter the darkest patch of forest. And that’s no way to live.