Another Year Older

Isn’t it odd that we make such a big deal about birthdays? New Year’s makes perfect sense, there is a psychological “reset” button when that number rolls over to the next in the sequence. But birthdays? Every day we tick closer to our demise. A birthday is a luminous beacon pointing out that our death is looming ever closer.

Not trying to be depressing, but if one thinks about it, what is the big deal? We age at the same rate, so every day is just like the other. What is so special about the one day the earth just so happens to line up with where it was at one’s birth? Perhaps I’m too cynical. Milestones are important, and surviving another 365 days on this hellish globe is definitely a milestone.

My birthday happens to fall very close to the new year, so for me it’s a reminder of the “reset” of a new year as well as a reminder of my own mortality. Because of this closeness in dates, I started making birthday and New Year’s resolutions at the same time. It’s a habit that I continue this year.

Right now, my life seems less “pressing”, there isn’t much I am unhappy with. There are definitely logistical things that need to be improved. My house needs a deep clean and purging, my diet needs attention, I should definitely drink less and exercise more.

But mentally?

I don’t have anxiety. I’m still not sure I ever did. Circumstances can stress me out. Long term stress can wear me out and exhaust me. But real clinical anxiety? Nope. Any claim to such would just be excuse making. There is no lurking disorder controlling my mind. There is no chemical imbalance impairing my self-control. If I eat myself alive with fear of tomorrow that is purely my own choice.

How many of us hide behind “mental illness” to protect ourselves from having to do the real work of growth and maturing? I know I did it for several years. I don’t mean to imply that real mental illness does not exist, or that our minds can’t be so overwhelmed with circumstances that we lose them. Life is rife with pain and difficulty, and disease, even of our minds, is part of that. But if we aren’t careful, we can mistake our own sinful responses to life for victimhood.

The stress of the last two years has taught me how to be content. I could have wallowed in my circumstances. I could have blamed my anxiety or my ex for my feelings and actions. I could have shifted the blame for my circumstances to any number of places. But that would make me just as bad as the people who hurt me. My response to my circumstance is my own, even if I am not fully at fault for them. Sitting around pointing a finger or holding onto bitterness is not going to make circumstances change. So I had to be content. I had to accept my life.

Contentment is an odd feeling for me, I was always so driven and worried. But I have learned to appreciate what I have and savor the little bonuses. Nothing is guaranteed in life, except for death, so why not be happy with what comes to me?

Not only that, but how much can I truly control? The most discontented action we can engage in is trying to change what we can’t. How many things do we miss completely when we focus on those things? We can change far more than what we believe we can, but we get so hyperfocused on ridiculous notions (like the idea we can change people) that we miss those things entirely.

So what circumstances can I change? Or at the very least, influence?

Materially and practically speaking, I can control many things. Finances, the state of my health, and the state of my home and yard come to mind.

This year I fully intend to build more wealth and invest more wisely. I want to build my business and sell more resin crafts and photo prints. I want to have a more successful blog on Hive (sorry WordPress, you don’t reward me with crypto). I want to get out of debt as much as possible.

Physically, I want to fit into all the pants I bought in 2020 which “shrank” in 2021. I’m feeling my 37 years, which I shouldn’t. I want my body to stop hurting so much until I am at least 45. So diet and exercise it is until my waistline becomes more civil and my energy comes back.

My house has always been a source of discontentment for me. I have spent countless hours trying to make it work only to find it a mess again. Living with children (and an ex who didn’t get out of bed much) means there are circumstances that I can’t fully control. There will always be a battle until they are out of the house. But how much of the struggle is my fault? What do I contribute to the disaster which is my home? I want to narrow down these things and fix them as well as I can. I want this year to be the year when I can finally sit down every night and breathe, no more constant movement and exhaustion chasing one mess after another.

Fixing physical issues can help me with many emotional issues, but not all of them. Some problems must be dealt with internally.

I want to build more patience and trust with people. I consider myself a patient person, but betrayals of several kinds have made me lose trust with people in general. The world’s response to betrayal is to get revenge, or to destroy the betrayer, or at the very least simmer with bitterness towards them. This mentality destroys one’s patience. You can’t overlook offenses if you are constantly vigilant for them.

Betrayal tends to make one paranoid and always expecting more betrayal, it’s almost as though bitterness spills out and washes over everyone the betrayed comes in contact with. I don’t want to seek fault where there is none, or over exaggerate small faults which should be overlooked. I shouldn’t blow up tiny “offenses” and let my pride destroy those who slight me. Not every wound from another is a betrayal. I want to learn the difference between the two and patiently bear the one and courageously confront the other.

I should not stand idly by while someone flaunts destructive behaviors. I am not the only one consumed in the flames of someone else’s selfishness. Selfish people destroy themselves. Selfish attitudes impair growth and joy in life. To stand by would be to hate that person and watch them die. So this year I resolve to confront selfishness in others close to me, no matter the consequences of their response to such confrontation.

Life is too short to let it pass without making the most of it. There are far too many people who live short pointless lives because they don’t fight for it. I intend to make the best of what’s left to me.

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