Ahh, here we are. The season of perpetual hope; a new year! 2016. I've always liked even-numbered years better. I've got a good feeling about this one.
So, I didn't set a new year's resolution. I have in years past, and the only one (in 33 years of life) I stuck to was to do one month of CrossFit, two years ago, with my sister-in-law. Certainly the concrete length and buddy system helped me in sticking to it. There's something in that! My CrossFit month was an unforgettable and strange experience. (My brother is a CrossFit instructor, and I have a lot of respect for it, but it isn't my fitness of choice.) I've also made the normal "eat less of this, call this person more, do 10 push ups a day" tangible types of resolutions. But resolutions of the heart, of the spirit, I've never made, or at least not to my memory. But I am reflective as a new calendar year dawns, as many of us can't help being. How wonderful it is!
Today Ben and Dexter and I engaged in one of our favorite activities, a City Hike (as we've termed them). We wound from our house in Bloomingdale, up through Howard University's campus, through Meridian Hill Park, across to Rock Creek Park. We did some more serious hiking there, taking some off-the-path trails. We admired the fitness endeavors of dozens of determined joggers, walkers, bikers, admired the crisp air (is winter weather finally here?), the opportunity to think, pump our legs, talk, and observe Dexter trying to pick up sticks 2 times his size. We twined up a rocky upsweep that led us out by Oak Hill Cemetery, a beautiful, undulating, sprawling, old cemetery boasting famous inhabitants, before depositing us back into the city on the streets of Georgetown. I had never seen the cemetery before; I was surprised. I became a runner in DC, at age 25, and have pounded what I thought were most of the paths and pavements of DC. As we spied the cemetery, I felt younger again, discovering something quaint, beautiful, hidden, new to me. As we emerged past the cemetery onto R Street, through a charming park, I lost my bearings. Many times I've been on R Street, but I'd never come at it from this angle, with this particular set of steps having preceded my entrance. Emerging from the woods into a manicured park, then the comely rowhouses of upper Georgetown, I felt exhilarated. That feeling of being surprised, when you weren't expecting to be surprised, is blissful, and instructive. It reminded me, or taught me, rather, of something not always easy to remember: that we don't know as much as we sometimes think we do.
Perhaps our lives are made up of cycles. Today made me think of certainty and uncertainty, wisdom and naivete, feeling old and feeling new. There are certain times in life that fall indisputably into the category of new: first day at a new school, a new job, in a new relationship, in a new place. And perhaps there are periods of time in life, too, that feel delightfully old: a rendezvous with an old friend, a repetition of a family holiday tradition, a viewing of a favorite movie or rereading of a favorite book, a holding of a familiar yoga pose. And then there are whole sets of times, years, in life that feel more certain or less certain. As I was dazzled by the surprise cemetery and the new perspective on an old place, I realized that I had been in a cycle of certainty, of expectedness, of oldness. I was feeling I knew more than I didn't know; I wasn't expecting to be surprised. Now, I didn't feel this in a conscious way. I had never said it aloud to a friend, to Ben, to myself. But from the combination of the January 1st date and scaling the exhilarating hilltop cemetery from a strange angle, I noticed my sense of stasis, my sense of believing I knew the answers, knew everything around me, and then I watched it evaporate instantly. I was delighted and relieved to discover it. The mysteries of the city, of the country, of the world, the universe, of ourselves, are infinite. This, in its inexactitude, in its visceral nature, is my New Year's Resolution. To encounter life with this freshness, this naivete; this I had once known, and had temporarily forgotten. I want to Remember that every day of life is a mysterious miracle.
Yoga knows this. Yoga is about this. Remember what you once knew: as a child, as a younger iteration of yourself. Everything is beautiful. Nothing is boring. Life is an investigation, a treasure hunt, a parade of wonderment.
"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." - Ralph Waldo Emerson