Saturday, January 2, 2010

A new year

I’d say I declare New Year’s resolutions 50% of the time. Some years, I draft a big, comprehensive list. Other years, it crosses my mind, I tell myself to sit and do it, but then it’s suddenly February and seems foolish to begin something on which I’ve already missed the boat. This year, I am making but one resolution: to live fully.

As of now, I have plans to be in Paris through June. That’s when my contract is up. So much can and will happen between now and then that I’m not wagering any bets as to what my decision will be, come the end of June. Maybe I will stay longer. Maybe I will have had my fill and want to return home. Either way, I know that, as of today, I have six months here in Paris. My goal is to embrace every one of the days and live as though I’m on permanent vacation: each day meant to be enjoyed and savored, if only in some small, remarkable way—like having a perfectly warm demi baguette on the walk home from work.

In the next six months, I want to go to the Opera and hike Fountainebleau. And I still want to improve my French. I want to write more articles, take more cooking classes and take advantage of more cultural events and gatherings. I want to go dancing more often, and there’s a long list of restaurants that I must hit. I want to meet more people—both locals and expats—and spend quality time with the friends I’ve already made. And then there’s travel—on the list: Portugal, Corsica, Lyon, Berlin….

When I came to Paris almost 10 months ago, I had my list of goals that I wanted to accomplish by year’s end—much like New Year’s resolutions. Some worked out better than others. Take pastry classes: check. Embrace leisurely Sundays: getting better at it. Obtain French proficiency: well, some days are better than others. Get the best stomach of my life. Cough. Sadly, my stomach is as soft and doughy as a butter croissant from the Croissant Nazi. Worse than it was when I first got here.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that rarely does life cooperate and allow you to go down a list of must-do’s and off-limits and check everything off. We are all works in progress. Some goals take longer to achieve than others. Some require greater effort. Some things, you accomplish almost without even realizing or meaning to. The challenges are good; the feelings of failure are not.

But what like about the New Year is that it encourages us to pause and re-evaluate. It gives us reason to think about where we are in life, what we want, and what’s important. Everything moves so quickly these days, it’s hard to make the time to do that otherwise—it feels unnecessary and self-indulgent. So while I’m not creating a bit list of resolutions this year, I am looking at my months ahead as if I'm standing on the precipice of possibility, hope and anticipation. I am so excited.

Here’s to an amazing 2010—the start of a new year, a new decade and a million spectacular moments!

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