I often feel the need to mark the New Year with some kind of ritualistic gesture. For instance, in 2010, something inside me compelled me to celebrate the New Year by going to the beach, taking the train out alone, dipping my foot in the Pacific Ocean. (My emotions were running hot at the time; perhaps I needed the calm and cool of an ocean vista.) Not nearly as crazy as a New Year's Day Polar Bear swim, but I guess I can understand the impulse that drives people to do that.
This year, an equally strong force compelled me, when I woke up this morning, to go out onto my back deck with my iPod -- still in my pajamas, my feet bare on the wet wood of the deck -- face west, and sing along to "Dog Days Are Over," by Florence & the Machine.
I can't quite explain it. By my personal standards, 2010 was not the dog days. It was a remarkably busy and exciting year for me -- there are whole swathes of 2009 that I don't remember at all, but 2010 wasn't like that. I successfully infiltrated the theater scene; I made my San Francisco playwriting debut; I did box-office for the first Olympians Festival and got named a writer/associate producer for next year's edition of the Festival; I even acted a bit! I celebrated 2 years living and working in San Francisco; I got a new day job; I moved into a different room in my apartment so I have bay windows now; I saw a lot of theater, read a lot of books, started a new blog on a lark. I've learned a lot about myself, and know that I won't stop learning any time soon; but I also feel stable and secure in my own identity -- I am no longer finding myself or trying new personae on for size. This time last year, I remember having a strong feeling that 2010 would be a memorable year for me, and that proved true.
And yet. And yet, I was ready for 2010 to be over. Maybe I'm ready for a year that's a little more peaceful. Or, despite the great things that happened to me in 2010, I also fell into some bad habits (falling asleep with the light on, leaving unopened mail sitting on the corner of my desk). My New Year's resolution is to stop sabotaging myself -- and the corollary of "stop sabotaging yourself" is "be good to yourself."
I don't have any strong feelings about what 2011 will hold, the way I did about 2010. But I don't really mind. And in the meantime, starting the year off with "Dog Days Are Over" can't hurt.