By Chris Suprun
We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. – Edith Lovejoy Pierce
Ready? We are hours away from perfection. In less than forty-eight hours, 2017 will be here and we can kick 2016 to the curb. I think that is the message Ms. Pierce is telling me. She was an English poet and pacifist and she might have been a marketer for your local gym.
New Year’s Day is an “Opportunity.” It sounds like the ads we hear from our local gym to tone up. We’ve over indulged in Christmas cakes and cookies and a New Year’s diet will solve that. Until we end it four days in.
Just as important, New Year’s Day will have the greatest sale ever. It will be the biggest. Very big. Very bold. People everywhere say this will be your one day chance to buy happiness this year – until the next holiday.
My first column for Eat Pray Vote was supposed to be about the New Year and new steps, new beginnings, new-ness. I think in my head I had some inspirational vision of what a new year might be. I didn’t and I don’t. I don’t know the future. I do know a little about right now.
Why? Is it because New Year’s Day is when newness is acceptable? That isn’t true though. We take new courses in September and start school then. We will plant gardens in the spring, not January. No one should wait for January to try out a great new restaurant.
Now is the time and now matters. With all due respect to Ms. Pierce, it isn’t New Year’s Day that is an “opportunity”, but right now. Horace was right – Carpe Diem – seize the day, whether that day be New Year’s Day or June 5th or September 23rd.
I understand this time of year is a natural slow down where we are through the holidays more or less. People are apt to become more contemplative about life and choices. So…make your choice and go with it. Choose: the laziness of yesterday or the energy of today? Trust me, check your calendar. Tomorrow is always the busiest to do list day. We procrastinate and then complain we never do anything.
I have friends whose daily routine is work the nine to five. They eat dinner and then watch Netflix for four hours a night before heading to bed and starting all over. I am not sure that is a life, but what I do know is I hear both of them complain about never doing anything. Get off the couch! NOW!
If you are carrying a few extra pounds do you think they shed easier on January 1 than they do right now or last week? What about next week is easier to stop smoking? If your plan is to be a better person there is no need to wait. Trust me, there are many out there in need of a simple smile and good morning from a stranger.
If you want to write a book, start punching the keys on the typewriter. Books do not write themselves. (As my editor at EPV would say, neither do blogs.) Sean Connery was great in Finding Forrester when he said “writers write.” Who knew?
Want to stop smoking? Throw out your pack of cancer sticks now. Talk to your doctor too. You’re about to have a massive cough. Your body is healing itself, not getting sick. Run with it and perhaps soon enough you will find yourself running.
Wonder why you don’t spend time with your kids? Find out what interests them and learn it. Go be a youth baseball coach. You don’t have to win, just help out. Learn to play NBA 2K17. Your kids will beat you. That is okay too. I remember when my children could fit on my arm. Those moments are gone on calendar pages in years, but from life in an instant. Don’t schedule time with them. Go be with them.
Deadlines do not make it easier to get things done. They make it harder. Many of us put things off until that time and then find ourselves shocked we didn’t make progress on our goal.
Set goals though. Be reasonable. If you haven’t been off the couch in years, you aren’t running a marathon next month. You might run a 5-K though. This week I want to exercise three times including a run around the block. Like writing, you will not succeed if you don’t lace up the tennis shoes and get outside. Find what you enjoy and go do it. There are a million devices out now though that measure your physical activity. They can tell you how many steps, heartbeats, and calories you’ve gained or lost in a day. Use them. You are getting feedback on a daily basis. Use it to make today’s fitness goals a reality now.
Not sure what to do with the extra money in your pocket once you give up cigarettes? Well, I am partial to the church coffers, but make an extra $20 payment on a loan. If that doesn’t make sense, put it in a savings bank. It sounds silly, but Christmas is coming. There are only 360 shopping days left.
Need time with your kids? Now is a great time. Put down this blog page and spend a few moments with them. They are about to be back in their routine of school, evening basketball practices, and so forth.
Set goals, but make them small. As you hit them you will want more, but just as easily you will have formed a positive habit. You will be doing something you care about rather than settling. Don’t settle.
If it is one thing I have learned in my five decades on this planet it is you have no idea what will happen tomorrow. You can’t predict the future, so don’t try and don’t wait. Yesterday is already in the history books. It shouldn’t be forgotten, but it can’t be changed. Today is a gift, that’s why they call it present. Take that gift and make today better than it was yesterday.