Intentions of the New Year

We were Haunted Houses this year for Halloween. It was my daughter’s idea.

I’ve often joked that Halloween is my Christmas; the holiday I look forward to all year and put my heart and soul into. But there’s something deeper in the pull to look at Halloween as the end of the year. It is a harvest festival, after all. A time to celebrate the culmination of all our work since early spring with treats and masks and parties. Time to tell spooky stories, for we know the year is dying. Maybe we can steel ourselves through an unforgiving winter if we can manage to make horror our companion instead of our enemy.

The calendar says the new year starts in eight more weeks, but in my heart, it’s now. Happy New Year. Time to steady our resolve.

In such a spirit, I am trying to get back into good habits. I did yoga this morning for the first time in months. I like yoga because it forces me to present, to be intentional, about the way my body moves. I used to be a runner and lift weights, and the appeal of that was the opposite. Muscle memory could take over, and my mind was free to wander and think about other things. But with yoga I have be in my body, working with with strain, reveling in every quantum of euphoria a good stretch will bestow upon you.

To live in a body is to live in constant compromise. It grows at its own pace, on its own terms. More than once, my daughter has fixed her frustrated gaze on a favorite shirt that has committed the unforgivable sin of not keeping up with her rapidly stretching frame. Friends my age talk about “no longer looking like myself” as the weight of decades makes itself known on our faces. Our bodies keep the score, yes, but they also play their own games, with rules we aren’t privy to. 

No one knows this better than trans people. Perhaps the greatest gift we’ve given to society is to be living, breathing proof that you need not live solely on your body’s terms. The compromise can run both ways.

My body carries result of years of favoring some muscles and disregarding others, the atrophy that comes from being in the wrong shape. Shoulders rounded like spinning wheels, spine bent in the hopes of hiding within myself. I am trying to unlearn those lessons, to stand tall and unafraid. Grace is often defined as movement we can predict, the arc of a ballerina’s arm leading to a place we can can expect based on where it has been, and we are pleased to be proven correct. Henri Bergson called it “the pleasure of mastering the flow of time, and of holding the future in the present.” Bodies, even ones rendered awkward by years of misuse, can achieve grace. That’s what compromise is all about.

This is my hope for the new year, then. One of grace. One of intention. I wish to prescribe an arc for the future, and I am setting my intentions in motion. Let’s see if I can stick the landing.

Speaking of intention, I made a decision to decrease my presence on Twitter. I’ve been on it for 15 years and my use of it has never been a particularly healthy. With the new management, it was worth taking a long look at the site and what I was gaining from it, which turns out to be not a whole heck of a lot. I’m not deleting the account, but the only way it makes sense for me right now is as a book promotion machine. So that’s what it’ll be. Really, the only platform I use with any regularity is Instagram (though I have had fun on TikTok upon occasion). I’ve always felt social media was best for pictures, anyway. 

Save the words for other places. Like here.