I earned a standing ovation from my 11-year-old by doing a simple thing just before New Year's Eve: I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. When I mentioned this to my pre-Queenager, her eyes popped out of their sockets, all spring-loaded and cartoony, and she began a slow clap that was completely honest but still could have easily been interpreted as sarcasm.
She walked past my spot on the couch wearing the navy blue striped workout pants that highlighted the foal-like look of her legs. This vision elicited in me a longing for more time and an awareness that time is not on my side when it comes to these types of bonding moments. The Season of Knobby Knees is but a brief transition leading into the much longer Door Slamming Era. Her childhood is almost gone; a shadow following its person around the corner and out of my sight.
"You deleted Facebook?!? Nobody does that!" she said, snapping me back from my melancholic moment.
"Well," I smiled, in complete rapture of her rapture. "I'm not nobody. This is how I'm rolling in the New Year, my friend. I take it that makes you happy?"
"Is it sweet? Then YESSSS!" she said, engaging her newfound ability to drop one of the 10 best movie lines ever into regular conversation (it's from Elf). Chalk that up to a parenting win.
In the closing days of the Worst Fucking Personal Year Ever—one that included a fractured wrist, eight titanium pins, two totaled cars and a partridge in a pear tree—I blew a blood vessel in my right eye while puking up whatever vile toxin I'd ingested on the first day of a vacation that was designed specifically to restore some sense of sanity, balance and inner calm. In that moment, I decided to make some changes for this new year starting with not ingesting things that make me sick and followed immediately by deletion of Facebook, which also makes me sick.
These are not resolutions, because I hate resolutions. If history is any indicator, the resolutions I conjure will last three weeks until they're forgotten, much like houseplants, non-essential doctor appointments and questions about whether or not all bourbon is whisky (or is it the other way around?). And then the next 49 weeks is an effort at quieting the "you suck" voice inside my head.
So, these are not those. These are a few actual changes I've implemented:
First, of course, is the Book of Faces. Eliminating this from my phone was a no-brainer and something I should have done sooner. There is no need to have it at the end of my arm to check in the car or in the grocery store or at my kid's tennis lesson or while driving somewhere with the fam. No, I will not waste my life by the glow of this moment's outrage porn.
I'm going to spend more quality time with my kid before she's done with me, so much that she'll probably want to be done with me. L'il Kumkwat and I are going to cook or bake something new each week. Wait. I mean, every other week (the goal here is success). She gets to pick every recipe.
I'm going to carry a book with me everywhere and at all times. I was once a voracious reader so this is how, after a year of not reading a single book cover-to-cover, I'll be reading complete books again. Actual books with pages that I physically have to turn. And The New Yorker. I'll be reading that again, too (thank you for the gift, honey). There is so much to take in and so little time.
I have a beautiful friend who goes to a monastery twice a year and spends five days in silence. He swears this practice has restorative properties, but the mere thought of it makes my lungs constrict. That is not for me so, instead, I'll be spending 10 minutes each day in guided meditation.
I am going to love more this year. I am going to be more present. Again, less screen, more connection. This is for myself and for my family, but also for those people who comprise my chosen family. If there is a single thing that may perhaps be an antidote for the ache and grief that defined 2016, it is loving harder, giving more and not taking anything for granted. There is salvation in this, I think. I'm going to double down on it.
And I'm going to triple-quadruple-jaziilion down on activism. I'm going to channel my outrage and disappointment. I'm going to continue to do actual work to dismantle white supremacy and be a visible warrior in the battle for social justice. If the ship is going down—and I think it is—I'll go down fighting. That isn't dramatic or hyperbolic. It is simply me living in truth.
If 2016 taught me anything at all, it's that nothing, nothing, nothing is promised. I want no regrets. I want to live as presently, as consciously and as truthfully as possible. And I want to earn that standing ovation from the only person who matters.