January, the month of making resolutions. A time to change ourselves into something better. This year I’ll build a healthier body, and train my mind to do more, and perhaps spruce up my wardrobe so I look sharper. I’ll gain more respect, increase my prestige, turn up my cool game.
If I may ask—how are your resolutions holding up, halfway into this first month of the year?
But if I’m honest, I don’t really care much for the answer to that question.
I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions. Sure, there is merit in stepping back and reflecting on ourselves, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best version of ourselves.
But why do we desire to change ourselves so much? Most of us are striving for ideals we’ve seen only from media, that singular ideal that is not any of us. It is just an idea that’s been warped by targeted messaging and touched up images. How has this become such a fixed element of our new year traditions? Why do we need to be the body of the ultra-fit athlete, or the face of the gorgeous supermodel, or the mind of the genius CEO? Why must we be #1 at something? Why can’t we take pleasure from who we are?
For instance, consider moss. Yes, the little fuzzy green carpets that sometimes appear on the ground or climb over rocks. Most of us don’t give it a second glance. If by chance you look a little closer, you’ll find that this funny-shaped blanket is actually a group of tiny fragile organisms. Leaves are often only a single cell thick. Branches boast limited capabilities that barely provide for survival. Occasionally the skinniest tendril will reach upwards in hopes of producing a new generation of moss. They need the moisture of the damp and the darkness of the shade and they prefer it that way just fine.
They’re so vibrant and thriving with such depressing conditions. Why don’t they want to be taller than a couple of millimeters? Why don’t they want to leave the shade and make their way out to the sun for the rest of their lifetimes, where the sun can bring out the dazzling hues of greens and encourage better food production through photosynthesis? Why don’t they want to blossom like the flowers and attract gorgeously jeweled butterflies?
They just have no reason to be something else than they already are. Their basic needs for survival are met. There is plenty to celebrate in the fact that they can thrive, propagate, and establish a large colony of moss brethren. Maybe they can see the beauty of who they are (and perhaps because they are small enough to see the beauty of each tiny, tiny form.)
Consider their role in the food chain and how they break down complex matter into nutrients for the larger plants of their ecosystems—and consider that they don’t even understand this important part they play in the survival of our earth. They do not live for the approval and appreciation of those that benefit from them. They live unaware of their vital role and do just fine not knowing. Truly, they are self-sufficient.
Perhaps they understand that in trying to be more, they would no longer be mosses. Maybe at some level, they understand that they are in harmony with the world around them, and that existence is balanced, perfect. There are forces out in the world beyond their control and they accept the effects as the effects come. For better or for worse. We all are who we are—you are who you are—and that’s just fine.