I decided to start 2016 unlike many of the past several years: sober. I stayed in last night and made dinner, then started a series, Poldark, that my mom bought for me for Christmas. It was addicting to say the least (Aidan Turner, enough said), and I sat on the couch for about 6 straight hours getting hopelessly pulled into the story line. In the last ten seconds before midnight, I heard my drunken neighbors gathered outside the house, setting off fireworks, loudly counting down the final moments of 2015.
I spent the days leading up to New Year’s Eve doing more thinking than usual. I’ve been in a perpetual state of restlessness since my return from Spain, one of which I have already written about in various forms. I frequently question what it is I’m doing, and what I hope to achieve. A part of me thinks that this is a positive thought process; that you must constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your choices and path in order to avoid a life gone stale. But on the other hand, it has planted many seeds of doubt that are cultivated just by knowing there is more out there. One thing can be certain, though. In recent years, alcohol has played a negative role in polluting my thought process and shaking up my certainty. I wanted to go into 2016 thinking clearly.
The concept of a new year is a human construct. Surely though, the compartmentalization of time through the creation of the calendar serves an important role in record keeping. And while it is never too late to make changes in your life, this illusion of a new year makes it easy to claim a new chapter. After an especially bad year, people take comfort in the thought of leaving that past behind and starting with a fresh slate.
So, here I am in 2016. 2015 wasn’t too shabby; I was living in Spain for the majority of the year, spent the most memorable Christmas break of my entire life traveling Ireland with no plans, reservations, or expectations, passed an Easter break traversing Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium, took a road trip through the Basque Country in Spain, finally visited Iceland’s Blue Lagoon on my third trip there, met countless amazing people. When I look back on the less shining moments of last year, there’s one common factor. Alcohol. I did and said things to people that I would never imagine doing sober and I lost friends because of it. Drinking heavily turned me into a person I didn’t like and I always woke up the next day full of regrets. There comes a point where you can’t apologize anymore. It just becomes not OK.
I woke up this morning, happy and clear-headed, went for a run and have spent the day meditating on the changes I’ve been progressively making and hope to continue making. I think people never really reach a point where there’s nothing more to improve. My larger plans for the coming year are still pending, but overall will include more changes and goals to work toward. A blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it, I’ve been born with a wanderer’s spirit and am not happy in one place for long.
If you have made a resolution (or several) for the New Year, I applaud you and sincerely hope you can stick with it. Changes are good and what keep us feeling alive.
Here’s to another 365 days to come.