On the last Sunday in November, my younger brother dropped by for his bi-weekly visit to see my folks. As he does from time to time, he usually brings my mother an exotic new houseplant to add to her collection of leafy friends.
On this day, he brought her a pink amaryllis.
When it first came into the household, it wasn’t pink – it was small (under a foot high) and green, with no flowers.
None of us had seen one before, nor did we know anything about it.
So imagine our surprise when, in the span of about five days, the thing shot up some 20 inches. That little plant – which had become a lanky, almost mutant-like creature – astounded me. My mom and I constantly watched it as we realized what was happening.
It bloomed four beautiful flowers, which lasted about a week. When it began to wilt and lean, my mom then did what was prescribed, cutting the plant right down to a nubbly few inches to keep it from dying (as a result of the explosive energy it put forth to grow and bloom for that short period of time).
It will probably remain in this state until this time next year, when it begins its awesome show all over again.
So what’s any of that got to do with today?
Well … as I start this year and reflect on yet another year gone, I kind of feel like that amaryllis, before the growth spurt. I feel this energy inside, this burning in my gut, and I know I could take off like a rocket at any moment, growing and blooming crazily.
And I want to. But I haven’t. And I know I have a lot to do with it.
I took a look at that magical list I created for myself at this time last year. And I knew right away that, instead of raising the bar, I dropped it on my foot. Repeatedly.
With the exception of trying (late in the year) to keep neat, and going travelling, I pretty did the EXACT OPPOSITE of EVERYTHING ELSE on that list.
I think part of the problem’s that I put too many expectations on myself. Because I was pleasantly surprised with what I’d accomplished in 2007 – seemingly without any effort – I thought I could replicate, even capitalize on that. And it didn’t really materialize.
Another part of the problem was that I don’t think I tried – or pushed – as hard as I could have, because I guess I felt as if I didn’t really have to try the previous year.
I could go on. But instead of dwelling on the previous 365 days, perhaps I should adopt this new mantra to tackle the next 364:
I’m not giving up. I’m just going to attempt NOT to expect so many things. Because when I set high expectations, I pressure myself to produce. And when I do that, I create my own stress. And that just leads to unhappiness.
So I’m thinking, while I have a list of things I’d like to do, I should just try and let things happen the way they were meant to. And should there be an opportunity to accomplish something, I should then take the chance and seize it. (Yes, I know, duh.)
So … to practice my new philosophy:
I want to travel somewhere other than Europe this year. Morocco’s on my mind. Will it happen? Maybe. What if it doesn’t? Well, maybe I should travel somewhere else instead. Whatever.
I want a new job and a place to live. Times are supposed to be tough. If I can actually make these things happen, great. But if they don’t happen? It’s not the end of the world. I still have a place to live, where the door’s always open. And I’ll have to learn to make do with the job I have – considering it’s probably better than having no job at all. Whatever.
I want to actually get to places on time. My track record has been horrific. And frankly it’s a bit disrespectful to everyone I keep appointments with. Plus I’m constantly a rush to do things on limited time. I’ll do my best. But if it it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. Whatever.
I should modify my lifestyle to a healthier one. It’s not necessarily about looking good – although that helps. I have a bad back. And the more weight I gain, the harder it is on the places that hurt. Plus, I need to re-introduce myself to the concept of moderation, since I pretty much chucked out the window sometime in early January. It’s a nice notion to entertain, so I’ll see what happens. Whatever.
So I’m leaving it there. Anything that happens outside of that – cool experiences, personal accomplishments, relationships formed and forged – I’ll do my best to leave up to the universe.
Because, much like that amaryllis, when you don’t expect anything is when something beautiful happens – when it catches you off-guard and just astounds you.
That is probably one of the feelings I love more than anything. Being blown away, to me, is right up there with having moments of pure happiness. And I’m more than ready to be astounded, with arms wide open.
So, 2009: go ahead. Astound me.
And happy new year to all of you. May it bring the good things you don’t expect.