Well before the stroke of midnight it comes, the feeling that I’ve made a mess of my life. No matter how much I am grateful for, or what I have achieved in the past year, the people I’ve helped or friendships that have blossomed, I can count on the regret appearing like the rising of the tide. No matter that I have healthy children (healthy enough to be really naughty) and am remarkably healthy myself (but not enough to be too naughty) still the feeling persists that I have somehow missed a vital plot point and taken a wrong narrative turn in the story of my life.
I cannot remember having a New Year where this wasn’t the case except the ones when I got drunk or wasted and could just let go and enjoy the party. (“Wooo! ’96 is gonna be the best year ever – shots at midnight!”) I haven’t had a true blowout on New Years’ for many years, with neither booze nor substances to lubricate the denial, so nowadays I’m left with doubts and recriminations to rattle around my sober head unhindered, before falling asleep at 10:35.
I live on the ocean, with my beautiful children and a husband I am amicably separated from, whom I am raising said children with in the most co-operative, respectful and peaceful way possible. There, I said it. In the coming months and years I will be writing more about this (there’s already enough for a whole book) but now is not the time, or at least today isn’t. Suffice to say that everything about this New Year points to a good direction, a positive place and a new beginning that I absolutely want and deserve.
And so I only have one resolution. And it is that no matter how many books I finish writing (this last year was one) or screenplays (one again) or how great my kids’ grades (pretty darn great) and how many have read my blog (over 23,000 and counting- thank you!) or the fact that I am correctly medicated at last (thanks Pfizer you otherwise evil motherfuckers) to remember that neither my happiness nor yours can come from any of these externals, which shouldn’t stop us from doggedly pursuing them. The kids’ diabolical plan this morning (following waking me by placing the dog on my face and the whipped cream fight that aforementioned dog licked up all traces of) was to lock themselves in my bedroom so they could watch endless AppleTV without being told to turn it off and go outside. (“Whoo! Pass the Jaeger!”)
This rather badly thought out plan has had the accidental benefit of undisturbed writing time for mommy, so thanks guys, way to start the New Year right! As I listen to this magnificent ocean advance and retreat, the sound abruptly changing from a frightening roar to the effervescent popping of tiny bubbles of spray, (like that old champagne I used to ring the year in with) I have a moment to meditate on what happiness actually is. And I know what it is for me today as we embark on lucky ’13 – it is a moment by moment choice to believe the positive, despite all evidence to the contrary.