New Year, Not-New Me

New Year, Old View: This view will outlive me and existed eons before me.

New Year, Old View: This landscape will outlast me and existed for eons before me. Christmas Day, 2014

As a magazine editor, every year I faced down the challenge of how to repackage the irresistible “New Year, New You” beast, trying to take a somewhat facile notion and turn it into something meaningful, true, with depth.

Because none of us should want a “new you.” Our existing ‘you,’ is just fine, thanks.

My life’s work has been to come to terms with my existing me, make peace with it, accept it. My current meditation mantra is “I am now, and am always, fine”—a reminder that humans were created with frailty at our center, and that how we collectively manage that frailty is the defining statement about humanity.

I want the defining statement about humanity to be about compassion, love under all circumstances, acceptance of all we cannot know and cannot control. It’s challenging work, to strive for that, to be sure. But I comfort myself with the reminder that all we can expect of ourselves is that we will keep trying, that we will commit to the practice of being human; we cannot and should not expect we will ever hit perfect…. except in the Buddhist meaning of the word, that we are now and have always been perfect. We are here to be human—that is all that is required—and, on our best days, to try to transcend the burdens of consciousness and ego.

When I look at the past ten years of my life, I am still utterly flummoxed at the series of losses (though typing that makes me nervous; there is always so much more to lose, isn’t there?), but it just keeps becoming ever more clear that the more that is pulled from my grasp, the less I grasp.

And the less I grasp, the more I can just be—and what I mean by “be” is not about some quantum state of transcendence (again, our desire to achieve drives so much of how we gauge how we are doing), but more about accepting the moment of existence that I am living this second. I am here. I have no great goals for my life other than to fill myself and my son with love and wonder (and hope he spreads that in his own life, and that it gives him peace the way it does me).

Modern life is not built in a way that allows us to dwell in love and wonder; we have created so many demands and so many distractions, and then, of course, there is the forever lure of wanting to define ourselves on this worldly plane: magazine editor, writer, author, mother, good person worthy of love…

But I accept my humanity. I accept that there are days I want to play Cooking Fever for three hours in a row and perfect my ability to make video-game sushi really, really fast in exchange for gems and a new set of tables and chairs in my video-game restaurant.

I accept that there are days that I can do nothing better with my mental energy than tear myself down for a dozen minor infractions of being: eating too much, sleeping too late, whatevering too little.

I accept that we are all here just doing the damn best we can, most of us with full hearts and good intentions.

For me, the dawning of this year is not about resolutions, perhaps for the very first time ever. In the past when I’ve resolved to have no resolutions, that was in and of itself a goal, a goal of trying, trying, trying to do the impossible work of letting go (of detaching, in Buddhist parlance).

More and more I am able to live on two planes: the plane of my flawed human self, and the plane of my higher consciousness. I will never be able to live in the latter plane full time, but the fact that I have re-engineered my life in a way that gives me daily appreciation and contact with the awe of all I will not know—even though I fail to meditate regularly, even though I play video games on my phone too much, even though I gained six pounds over the holidays—feels like a sweet freedom that is richer than anything I could ever give myself through striving.

Let go. Let the river of life carry you.

Happy New Year, my dearest, dearest friends. Having you with me for this conversation, this incredible journey of being, is the greatest treasure of all.

About stacy

I am a writer, author, mother, former magazine editor (last at Redbook), optimist, and, above all, a searcher. I'm still searching for whom I'm really meant to be, after a series of very jarring losses: a divorce and house disaster that led to a book (Falling Apart In One Piece); a week after the book came out, my parents suddenly fell gravely ill, I resigned from my job (and, apparently, my career), my son went into crisis, my parents then rapidly died four weeks apart, and my boyfriend (who had moved in with me and my son just weeks before the book came out) began the painful journey of realizing we couldn't make our relationship work (that story unfolded on this blog). Since then I've been trying to figure out what's next. Or, in other words, how to fill in the blanks.
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19 Responses to New Year, Not-New Me

  1. Estelle says:

    Stacy, Thanks for sharing this. FYI: I wouldn’t have my friends any other way than human and flawed. Perfection is oh so boring. Looking forward to drinks in 2015 and more chatting.

  2. Jen says:

    How did you know just exactly what I needed to read? Love this.

    • stacy says:

      Jen, I did not know, I only hoped I would find others who might connect with these thoughts and fever dreams. So glad and honored you are among them. xo

  3. Lindsey says:

    Oh, Stacy, I relate to this so entirely, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. The less you grasp the more you can be … oh, isn’t that just the crux of it all? Thank you, as always, for your words, for the light you are in my world, and here’s to an in-person visit in 2015. xox

    • stacy says:

      And you, too, are a light in my world, Lindsey. Let’s please try to make plans. You and I deserve a nice, long hike together talking about the mystery of life. xo

  4. Rita Arens says:

    Perfectly perfect in every way.

  5. Dina says:

    Your words here truly touched me, Stacy. The weight of constantly striving, searching…the drive to be more, do more, be better. Letting it all go and just letting yourself be. “…accepting the moment of existence that I am living this second. I am here.” “Let go. Let the river of life carry you.” What an incredibly powerful, liberating sentiment. Thank you, so much, for this inspiration in these first days of our new year.

  6. Rita says:

    So good to hear your voice here, Stacy. These words resonate particularly for me: “I want the defining statement about humanity to be about compassion, love under all circumstances, acceptance of all we cannot know and cannot control.” I have been struggling mightily with loving under all circumstances and accepting all we cannot know and cannot control. I don’t want to be a new me. I think, instead, I want to be more me. The me that gets lost under all the stuff of our modern lives, all the struggle we engage in and with. Perhaps it is not so much about transforming, but about revealing.

    Thank you, as always, for the food for thought.

    • stacy says:

      “I want to be more me.” I love it. I’m adopting it. Might even slap it on a t-shirt. I want you to be more you, too, because every part of you I encounter I adore. xo

  7. Jena says:

    Whatevering. Now that is a good word for 2015. Thank you, for this beautiful post.

  8. alexandra says:

    When I saw this pop up in my inbox, I knew it would be what I needed.

    Yup. I have decided on Solutions not Resolutions. Solutions to better health, more energy, finding joy, living gratitude. It’s never easy, but it’s mindful. That’s what I want. To examine, and to break out things that don’t serve the life I want for my family.

    So much love to you, Stacy. When I see your picture pop up on FB and twitter, I think, I love this woman.

    All the best to you in 205, friend. xo

  9. Vikki says:

    Yes to all of this. I often wonder why I so often fail to show myself the same compassion I show others. Here’s to more compassion!

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  11. Christine says:

    Reading this leaves me with one thing to add for you, Stacy. You Are Enough.

    XOXO – the Avenger of Sexiness

  12. D. A. Wolf says:

    Wishing you (belatedly) a happy 2015. These are important reminders. We cannot hear them enough – women especially – always feeling as if we ourselves are not enough.

    Thank you for this.

    xo

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