As the clock struck midnight, I was buzzing with excitement for 2018 to begin.
My goals for the new year were outlined with the help of Lara Casey's planning resource, "Power Sheets." I'd picked out my core desired feelings aided by Danielle LaPorte's book "The Desire Map." The holiday season had been filled with nourishing memories and outings with family and friends as well as a belated honeymoon to Arizona.
I was at peak levels of joy and gratitude and all other pleasant emotions. I felt similar to Charlie stepping into the Chocolate Room of Willy Wonka's factory being serenaded by Gene Wilder singing "Pure Imagination." The coming year appeared full of beauty, potential and trees of giant gummy bears.
First, Justin and I would drive back to Rochester from the Wisconsin Dells water park where we'd been staying with his family celebrating Christmas and the new year together. We planned to be home in Minnesota by noon. I was eager to meal plan, do laundry and get ready to return to work the next day. Few things bring me a deeper sense of contentment than planning for the week ahead at home in my pajamas while petting my dog and listening to Tibetan singing bowls on Spotify.
But the day took a series of unpredicted turns. By 3 p.m., we found ourselves in a booth at the St. Charles A&W waiting for a tow truck to get us and our car back to Rochester. The clarity of my sparkling 2018 vision was getting hazier by the minute.
I've noticed sub-zero temperatures and inconvenience of any kind are a dangerous combo for my optimism. Joy, if left exposed to such conditions, can freeze into bitterness and sarcasm in just a matter of seconds.
The necessity of the tow truck was precipitated by the strange noises that began under the hood just west of the Dells. A crunchy, rumbly sort of sound. We stopped a few times on the drive back and tried a variety of micro-solutions before eventually landing in St. Charles. The car would need assistance to make it the rest of the way.
I was peeved. How could I start off the year with healthy food choices when faced with a restaurant menu in which the only gluten-free item was a 700-calorie chocolate shake? How could I be patient and loving when everyone was irritating me? It appeared my annual plan and goals would be an utter waste, as I already was failing at my entire list of aspirations. (Inconvenience also can lend itself to a flair for the dramatic.)
But then, at the Cenex station while we waited, I felt a shift. As if by cosmic intervention, I realized all wasn't lost. Jan. 1 wouldn't be a wasted day; it would, instead, be an opportunity. A chance, both irritating and beautiful, to bravely embrace Psalm 118:24, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
This IS the day — every day, Jan. 1 or March 20 or July 17 or any other day. Some of them are guided by the smoothest of sails; most are not. Regardless, they are all a gift and worth rejoicing in.
New Year's resolutions aren't lived out in a perfect ecosystem. We live in a world where cars break down and computers crash and sometimes the crap hits the fan. What's the point of resolutions if we only feel capable of achieving them when everything is going perfectly? That's not real life!
Willy Wonka sings in the original version of the film, "If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it." Wonka is attempting to express that, while glamorous outside conditions are nice, what is happening in our own minds is the key.
I did find paradise in St. Charles. The Cenex bathroom has a personal space heater keeping the room cozy. Toasty delight! There's a Cabin Coffee next door that serves warm, toasty Americanos. The chocolate shakes are actually quite amazing at the A&W. Another gift: when the tow truck was delayed in picking us up, my mom graciously and quickly came to retrieve us.
2018 is here, and it won't be perfect. There will be moments when it all falls apart. There will be times when everything is in order. Regardless, the year will be full of days God has made, and we can rejoice, and we can be glad for every little glimpse of paradise.