2020, here we come.
"Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I'll meet you there."
― Jellaludin Rumi
What’s got your attention right now?
Maybe it’s your evening plans, what to wear to where you’re going.
Maybe it’s thoughts about 2019; what you did and didn’t do, who’s with you and who isn’t anymore.
Right now, my attention is on my right thumbnail. It’s rough to the touch, with ridges and grooves. Also, it’s overgrown. I’m compulsively rubbing this nail with my right index finger every time I pause my typing as if the rubbing will smooth out its flaws.
It’s an odd thing to be preoccupied with on a day like today.
Today is no ordinary New Year’s Eve. Today marks the end of a decade, and within a few weeks, we’ll also be completing a full Chinese zodiac cycle as well. The startup vibe of the rat will soon replace the round-up energy of the boar.
January 2020 is the freshest party I’ve been invited to in a long time. I want to get all dressed up and ready to revel in all its newness.
But first, I need to say more about my thumbnail.
I’ve had a harsh critic inside of me nearly all my life. “Look how clumsy you are!” it shouts. It also tells me I’m ugly, dull-witted, grandiose, and unfit for this or that. It demands I fix my shortcomings, and hide them if I can’t.
The voice of Harsh Critic had always sounded grown-up, even when I was as little as four. So I assumed she was right and listened, though I also desperately wanted to prove her wrong. Every chance I got, I tried to win her over.
Last October, I spent a windy Saturday in a quiet, lakefront room filled with tinkling music. I knew meditation was on the daylong retreat agenda—but not that I’d be at it for more than three hours.
As it turns out, my mind is mostly on food. The rest of the time, it’s analyzing past dealings with people, or imagining difficult future interactions with people. Exactly 0.5% of the time, it registers a brilliant light beam. Then it goes straight back to regular programming.
My first reaction to this sobering discovery was “Ouch.” Harsh Critic had some basis for the dull comment, more than I ever wanted to believe. And if she’s right about that, she might be right about the other mean stuff she said, too.
Then, seconds later, I wondered, “What would happen if I stopped trying to prove her wrong?”
As I run my index finger over that “flawed” thumbnail once more, I feel the presence of Harsh Critic. “Planning to go to the 2020 party with hands looking like that?” she scorns.
I want to make the discomfort of hearing her voice go away by doing something about my appearance. At the same time, I want to tell Harsh Critic off for talking to me like that. “Why are you fighting me? You know it’d only take three minutes to cut and buff,” I imagine her saying.
But before I say or do anything, I’m pausing.
I acknowledge that yes, my thumbnail isn’t in party-worthy condition. I recognize that I’m the owner of a 0.5% brilliant mind. Some people will share the same opinions as Harsh Critic, and I won’t like how it feels to be in their presence.
I can feel judged, insecure, whatever, and let that feeling be for a minute without rushing to fix or fight.
Do you know what else is deliciously true? Ugly nails or pretty nails, I’m still invited to the party. I’m worthy of being there to revel in the promise of 2020 in all its glory and thrive there while I'm at it.
And so are you, invited and worthy.
2020, ready or not, here we come.
PS. Here's a feel-good song for you.