Searching for Joy

by 12:08 AM 0 comments
I am a big fan of New Year's resolutions. I make Jewish New Year's resolutions, School Year resolutions and Gregorian resolutions. When I realized the year of the horse just started, I wanted to make some Chinese New Year's resolutions. I started searching my mind for what I hope to improve on in my life.

Thanks to a very conscientious effort on my part, I have already mastered the art of maintaining basic personal hygiene, so any resolutions like 'floss every day' were out. I'm responsible about cleaning the apartment, possibly too responsible, I recently noticed that I scrubbed the varnish off of our cabinets. Whoops! I pay the bills on time, I eat well, I plan meals in advance, I exercise regularly, everything I buy is approved by the environmental working group, or it's organic, or it's thrifted which is the ultimate in eco-friendly, I use my Lumosity membership for brain training a few times a week, all of my stuff is hyper-organized, I hand-wash the things that should be hand-washed, I donate to public radio, all this to say I'm terribly, terribly orderly.

I think that my search for order and discipline came from a time in my life when I was struggling with a lack of boundaries. Going from high school to college, everything suddenly seemed so open to possibility. There was no set time to have any meal; the dining hall was open for a period of several hours, during which students could come and go as they chose. There were no restrictions on what we ate, which led me to have sodas and desserts at every meal for months before they lost their charm through repetition. Rather than finding myself liberated, I missed rules and schedules. It's like a quote from one of Kafka's journals: "A bird flies, seeking it's cage."

So I sat down in the library one evening and wrote my first set of resolutions; I still have the notebook. Like most sets of resolutions, some were kept and some were broken. I did learn French and study abroad in Paris, I didn't become an aide for a congressperson. I did conquer a bad habit of openly ridiculing people I disliked, I didn't conquer the bad habit of lying in bed until the last possible minute. My resolutions guided me, and comforted me. Instead of feeling despair when something went wrong, I would look to my goals for guidance.

These lists of resolutions are always evolving, but their place in my life has remained the same. They have really worked. In fact, they've worked so well, that I sometimes feel more robot than person. I am following the plan, the schedule, the google calendar, whatever.

This year of the horse, I've realized that what I want back in my life is joy. I want the thrill of discovery, the feeling of passion, the catharsis of being moved to tears by art. I want to find these things without ruining my comfortable life. And so, the search begins! Resolutions aren't supposed to be vague, but I'm making an exception for myself. I feel like after all of this slogging away for excellence in consistency, I need a break.

Marina Gafni

Marina Gafni is a 28-year-old speech pathology student. She lives with her husband in San Jose, CA.


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