I think this happens to me every year.
But I forget.
I want to attribute it to the onslaught of gift buying, card sending, preparation for upcoming Christmas travel, teacher thank you goodies, holiday parties, sick children, cold weather, lack of a running routine and general harriedness...but again, I don't know.
I'll grant you that I'm a sucker for change. A 60-day challenge. New book club. Motivational mantra for the upcoming year. A break-out opportunity of any sort. My heart skips a beat for newness and most of the time, my general malaise is resolved by doing x, y or z thing and my outlook changes.
But as of late, I just feel sad.
Sitting both at a fabulous Jason Isbell show last week and strangely enough the following morning at mass, I heard two messages that won't let me go.
The first from the lyrics of Isbell's "Different Days" and secondly, our deacons' homily made me mindful that often the right thing to do is the hard thing. And that as believers, it's not so much that God is exhausted by our "bad behavior," it's more so, that he's probably bored watching the cyclical patterns of how we live.
We vow that we believe in God, a higher purpose, a greater calling. And then, we go out into the world and get sidetracked with our favorite sins or coping mechanisms. Overcome with guilt and remorse, we repent and vow to do better. And then, we sin all over again battling the same demons that emerged yesterday and the day before.
Hence, the sadness. Is this the human condition? Can we do better?
It's a crazy thing staring down the end of a calendar year when you're 40 years old. Suddenly, you start to become intimately aware of how you've always done it so much so that you can predict exactly what's going to happen after the tree comes down, the stockings get laid to rest, the company finds their way back home and you have to remember to change the year on the checks you write.
There's comfort in that. The more years you have, the wiser, in theory you should become about all of it. But sometimes, there's a wiggle, an itch, a fear, a worry that it could be better and you could be laying other things to rest that are hard to do, but often are the right things to let go of.
And maybe, in the new year, it's time to let the light in.
And to find flickers or small openings that deserve an opportunity to emerge because they're illustrations of who you are when you're not afraid or bounding back and forth between habitual old patterns.
I have struggled with fear my entire life. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of regret. Fear of the unknown. Fear that it's too late. Fear that I've fucked it up too badly to get a chance at making it better. Fear that I'm a fraud. Fear that I'm alone. Fear that I'm not enough.
All of these statements are true and false depending upon how much credence I give them and whether they live in the light or they slink around in the shadows of the dark.
Instead of being sad or afraid, as I approach the final two weeks of this year and head into the new one, I want to try-on the light and see what it feels like to have it hurt in a good way...letting go of that which doesn't serve me, in the hope that the parts dying to emerge have a safe place to land.
I suppose you never know until you try.