De-clutter your home! Rein in your spending! Cut down on waste. The New Year exhortations of my newsfeed are darts targeted at the ballooning trouble-spots of individual existence.
My January pledges almost always follow that design, which seems dictated by nature in a way. Standing at the dark gateway of the new year, my impulse is to do what I do when I head out the door on these winter mornings—trim and tighten all the frayed edges, shed anything that will slow me down. Not only is this reform approach understandable, it’s practical and even honorable, I think. Why not focus on doing the best that I can do within the circumference of my flesh and bones, my brain and my little patch of habitat.
The problem is that when I take on one of these narrow-arrow resolutions, I start to take on that shape too. Even though my ultimate aim is to be a better part of a broader world, “resolved” decision-making inevitably whittles my perspective to the boundaries of my own daily run-around: “Do I need these old blankets? Will I miss that weekly movie treat? How many minutes of hot water do I really need?”
This year I’m wondering, what about getting big in 2015? I don’t mean getting ripped or perky or topping any chart. I mean stretching those goals and questions and gestures outward instead of inward.
Thinking bigger is intimidating. It’s daunting even to think of reaching beyond the confines of my coat some days. I have limited time, limited money, and limited imagination for monumental change. I got a boost, though, when I revisited the word “resolution.” In terms of digital or printed image means a degree of sharpness, based on the dots per inch. Basically, more dots means higher resolution. The bigger picture gets better not because some blobs straighten out their edges, but rather because more little lights huddle in together. The screen in front of you right now is evidence of what an impact a pack of pixels can have.
So I’m hatching a new plan for 2015. Maybe instead of focusing on how to become a cleaner machine unto myself, I can move a little closer to others. “What or who can I make time for, reach for? How can I stretch what I’ve got?” That semantic shift is enough to make me feel a little more bubbly and a little less rigid about what it means to change, and what shape that change can take.
Looking back at the photos and montages, I see those of you who organized and donated and created in 2014 and many years before that, already shining in a world of high-def hope and common cause. You are way ahead of me. Please stay, and please make a little room for one more.