There are various dates in January given as the day most people will abandon their New Year’s resolutions, today being one of them (although I am dubious as to the science behind those sorts of ‘facts’). Frankly I am surprised most people make it to the 12th (the other date when most people give up) as the thrill of New Year wears off before the chimes have even struck midnight for me. 1st January is just another date on the calendar and demanding that you change your life, even just a little, seems like very hard work when the days are dark, the nights are cold and the first task you return to work to is removing the dusty limp Christmas decorations from around your monitor/work bench/tractor. Even worse if you work in an emergency service or retail and didn’t have any time off for the holidays, nothing has changed but you are still expected to be the Super New and Improved version of yourself.
So I say screw it. Make improving your life, turning it into what you want to be not what others tell you it should be, an everyday thing. Tiny steps leading to real change, maybe eat half a pizza on Fridays, instead of the whole thing. But pushing yourself is good, IF it is in the right direction and for the right reasons, so I devise challenges for myself instead of resolutions.
Challenges can be anything you want but NOT what other people tell you. Do YOU want to climb Mount Everest? Yes? Then go for it…if not then how about Snowdon? The first major challenge I set myself was to climb a mountain, any mountain, and the easiest mountain in Britain is Snowdon (as far as I am aware). So I found a place to stay (a log cabin actually) and researched how to climb/walk Snowdon. It was freezing at the top but there is a cafe selling hot chocolate up there, which sort of makes you feel a little less like an intrepid sherpa and more like an intrepid shopper, but I had climbed a mountain. (By the way, I know that LOADS of people have climbed Snowdon, but only one of them was me). The memory of this comes back to me in unbidden moments, not when I assume I’d really need it, if I faced with something daunting say, but more likely when I’m relaxing and contemplating dinner, and it always makes me smile. In fact, that is reason enough for me to be glad to have done it, because randomly it makes me smile.
My current challenge is to make 1000 paper cranes. In Japanese culture a 1000 paper cranes are made to request a wish from the gods, or to gain good fortune, but I am doing it because they provide a few minutes of mindfulness each morning. They are supposed to be made within a year, but my plan is to make less than one per day. I have a significant date in mind, a couple of years from now, so my plan is to complete the 1000th crane on that morning (I am on approximately 450 right now) so I allow myself crane free days when I’m on holiday or have very early starts. When I have finished folding I shall string them together, or hang them from the ceiling, or do something equally arty with them, before photographing then recycling them. I love the idea of my paper waste turning up at the recycling centre and someone who works there spotting 1000 cranes trundling past on a conveyor belt.
It is the making of the cranes that counts. At the end of my life I will be able to think back (hopefully) and know that I made 1000 paper cranes, climbed/walked a mountain, drove a car on the wrong side of the road (legally), stood in the shadow of a volcano, knocked down a wall, wrote a blog, baked a loaf of bread from scratch and knitted a minion. All of those things, and all of the other challenges I set and achieve, will make me smile. That’s how I want to go.
The view from near the top of Snowdon.
My Crane Army.