New Year’s Resolution(s): Friends and Self Care

We have a few plans for the new year. Just a few. But I think my most important aim is to connect meaningfully with someone, every day. That could be a phone call with a  friend who is far away, an impromptu  lunch with an acquaintance, a meeting with fellow activists, a speech to strangers followed by a conversation, making a new  friend. Or some time with myself.

I’m a private person. I can be by myself or in the cocoon of my family for days on end. I never had a great many friends, but I am close with those I have. My resolution is to give more thanks for them. For how wonderful it is that you show up on their doorstep and they make you stay longer than you had planned. That someone is there to take care of your child at a pinch, or to pick you up from the airport even though it’s late. Someone who will meet you, at a second’s notice, at a nearby conservation area on a nice day for a paper bag lunch. Someone new, who invites you to a festive meal and you arrive finding her oldest friends gathered there as well. Someone who hears you don’t have plans for New Year’s Eve and who out of the blue invites you to dinner… I resolve to be more mindful of my friends, to make every meeting count.

And over the last year, with the start of my activism, I’ve learned that one can really never have enough friends, how enriching it is to make new friends.  For in new friends especially we see what we can become, what we are capable of, and how we can be of service. We see the variation of humanity, the great mystery and adventure of the other. I resolve to be more interested about who it is behind the face that I encounter for the first, maybe third time, and to ask of them, especially: how are you different from me? What can I learn from you, what gifts do you bear? And how can I help you, empower you?

All this is really part and parcel of my third resolution, which is to be more conscious about self care. Discovering the awesome power of community made me neglect, for a while there, my care of self. I wasn’t eating and drinking right, or spending the time and energy on family, art and study that I was used to. I seesawed from me to community and back again, burning the candle at both ends. By now I have come to glimpse that self care and community work are not two poles, but rather two sides of the coin that is me. I am thinking that at any time I can flip that coin and go with which ends up on top, knowing it will even out at the end. And that, most importantly, caring for the one implies caring for the other. For truly, how can I be a friend of myself without befriending another, and vice versa? I resolve to test that idea, to make it work.

So there you have it, my New Year’s resolution, in short: to be mindful of the other, of myself, every day, face to face.

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