New Year, New Response to Life

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Inevitably, January 1st beckons bloggers back to their keyboards, back to that ubiquitous tap dance of the fingertips, hunkering them down with the obligation of bloggers everywhere to riff anew on the yearly Resolution Shim Sham. To Resolve or not to Resolve? That’s only the first question. Each year we read endless suggestions for not only what to resolve, but how. Repeatedly, we see the New Year’s Resolution as sales pitch, the New Year’s Resolution as Facebook status, the New Year’s Resolution as that 15-page spread in just about every women’s magazine that you can cut out and tape to your wall, and it juice-cleanses you and promises you toned everything.

Which kind of makes me sick.

But before I indulge in a criticism of our cultural steadfastness to Judeo-Christian myths of purity, to the ridiculous superstitiousness of wiping the proverbial slate clean, I must confess: I am a sucker for self-improvement. Like people who begin their Christmas shopping in July, I start logging my NYR’s no later than November. And if I told you I had a group of friends with whom I shared a Google Doc? Which contained not only all our individual goals for the coming annum but also our ideas on how to achieve them and, then, our progress throughout the year? But I wouldn’t. Tell you, that is.

The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend via text message that went like this:

Since then we’ve tried it in several possible scenarios, and it does seem to work, if occasionally coming off as tactless. In particular, though, I’ve found our trick to be wonderfully suited to Dancerlife and its challenges. Not getting the gig. Last-minute schedule changes. A gnawing lack of funds. On the flip side, “Hahaha. Okay.” works under grander and more glorious circumstances, too. A successful performance. A well-received blog post. New projects. In other words, in an industry where ego slithers its way around nearly every curve of one’s (often uncertain) career path, an attitude that wears high boots with a thick sole becomes indispensable. Somehow, it allows for a world where keeping my head down and my chin up are not mutually exclusive. And, what’s more, this attitude just happens to contradict most of the so-called “responses to life” I’ve actively kept in my repertoire until now.

The other day, I decided to make squash soup for a small holiday dinner I hosted. I was excited because a few weeks back a blender had magically appeared in the kitchen; it was my roommate’s, but there for the using. Into the blender went garlic, onion, spices, stock, squash, and potatoes that had been simmering on the stovetop. I watched as the vegetables spiraled up into a smooth burnt-orange mixture, steam clouding the top of the glass jar. Triumphantly, I switched off the machine and jerked the handle to the left to unlock the jar from the base. Wrong way. Suddenly soup was everywhere: pooling at my feet, clinging to the front of my dress, and, I now realized, spilling out hot over my hand from the bottom of the jar onto the countertop. I began to dance and whimper, “Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-hot!” before my brain registered that my hand was burning and needed cold water, now. Fast forward to a few moments later, when the only sound was the squish of squash underfoot and the stillness of my contemplation of the scene. Then, from the stillness arose a thought: “Hahaha. Okay.”

Before.

After.

So, I’m resolving to let “Hahaha. Okay.” be my official 2013 New Year’s Resolution. To cite Epictetus, “Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.” I can’t say I exactly “wanted” to coat my kitchen in squash, nor have I “wanted” to be rejected in audition after audition. But I have learned that acceptance and humor, when combined with persistence, do result in success, whether in the form of a dinner party or a dance job. Okay?

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Showing 2 comments
  • stephanie
    Reply

    Lara, I am right there with you on the compulsion to constantly self-improve. I’m always obsessing over ways to better my diet, better my vocabulary, better my dancing, my body, and so on. But, at the same time, I am equally miffed by this cultural phenomenon that bettering oneself should only happen at the cusp of a new year.

    The other day, I was watching a television program — the name of which I will not say because I am embarrassed to admit some of the daytime television I watch willingly. The host was giving out statistics about New Year’s Resolutions; basically explaining that the majority of Americans make resolutions, but break them before the first week of the new year is even over. To which I shall say, “Hahaha okay.” I think people have the best of intentions, but it’s the follow through that seems to always present a problem. In the meantime, I am adopting this mantra for 2013 as well. : )

  • candice
    Reply

    Similarly, I have one resolution instead of 10 this year: meditation. It seems like it may just help me loosen my grip enough to utter the words haha ok.

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