New Year's Resolutions and Coming From/Going Back Home

On New Years Eve, The Yo-Naus started the long process of going-going back-back to Cali-Cali at 3:45 a.m. EST. Sleepy but excited to return, we waited for boarding to begin at DTW to O'Hare, to board a plane to Denver, to board a plane to Reno. We were slated to return to Tahoe approximately at 12:49 p.m. PST and we had NYE plans in Truckee that we'd been looking forward to for weeks. I was going to wear a top knot and drink too much champagne and show strangerfriends pictures of Oatmeal. It was going to be rad.

After sitting in the Detroit airport for over 3 hours, it became clear that we were going to miss our connecting flight to Denver from Chicago. We watched dozens of couples, singles, and many disgruntled State fans (going to Pasadena) become unglued, shouting, pacing, angrily calling family members to explain their dilemmas. We watched airline employees attempt to calm them, analogous to attempting to appease small children in need of naps or a snack. It was alarming. And in that moment, I felt a true change, and felt miles away from where I used to be. (I also felt lucky to no longer work at a preschool.)

A year ago, I would've freaked out. I probably would've cried but most definitely would've been feeling exactly like the dozens of disgruntled passengers we watched stomp around. I would've felt an epic disappointment. We arrived in Chicago 3 hours later than planned and finally made it to Denver at 6 p.m. on New Years Eve. It was clear with holiday travel and bad weather, we were staying in Denver for New Years.

And we had a really good time. We were put up in a super comfortable Denver hotel, ate nachos and salmon and burgers and met a host of kind strangers also making the best of an unplanned detour in an unknown land.
We slept like rocks and headed back to the airport, making it home to Tahoe around 2 p.m., 26 hours after our original plans.

Returning from my hometown after my longest absence from it felt longer than 7 months and at the same time it felt like no time had transpired. The trip was filled with lots of happy moments, nostalgia and being surrounded by a ton of close friends and family fulfilled that social aspect I've forego-ed that comes with starting over in a new land. But as we peeked out the airplane windows at those mountains, as I spied a Big Truck hat (Tahoe local sign) in front of me, a feeling I never thought could happen anywhere else, did.

It's good to be home.

But wait, wasn't I just "home?" Isn't my home where I grew up? Where my family is? Sure. But this trip has taught me a very important lesson on home, the "where should I be?" question. It all lies in one essential truth that I've constantly questioned: it's not where you are.

So if that is true, then where do you go? How do you choose where to live when the "where" no longer matters?

It's so incredibly easy to look at Tahoe and say, "Well that's why. The mountains, the lifestyle, the great jobs." It's so easy to say those are the whys - what Toledo isn't. And although the tap water and food are much better, Toledo has some wonderful things about it, too, that people may be too busy to appreciate or have forgotten about - it's MetroParks, the beautiful sunsets illuminated behind puffy cotton candy clouds, the strange magical way you can see for miles and the solitude of an Ohio farm horizon. These things make my heart swell almost as much as a hike in the Sierras and the alpenglow of my evening commute.

There are so many of us so tightly painfully coiled up, foregoing sleep and eating standing up in the name of productivity, glorifying "busy" and "hard-working" as if the alternative is "lazy" and "lazy". It's almost as if being incredibly busy is more important than being a human being. They essentially forget how to be human. They are found stomping their feet in the presence of others, not because they are vile or inherently evil but because they've turned off all sensibility in an effort to live more productively. But less sleep for more work, less lunch for more meetings, less love and more urgency doesn't improve a human's life. Denying all basic needs, in return, turns "normal" humans into robotic monsters, thinking of the rest of us as being in the way of getting to work 5 minutes early. When I lived in the city, I truly hated so many of my jobs, but that thought of "well at least I have a job" was ingrained in me. And now, I think I'd rather be unemployed than so stressed out, it takes me 3 days of nothing to return to "normal".

So if it's all the same, why am I here? It took 7 months and being away for a week, but it's simply the culture. There is a greater concentration of people that prioritize fun, their connection with nature and with everything that changes the energy of a place. There are so many human moments, something I lacked severely before being here.

I am learning to live, fully, without thinking or planning on how to live.

And in these moments where I struggle to prioritize living myself and nurturing my relationship with nature, being in Tahoe feels like medicine.

I want to be where the people are. That remind me to stay conscious, that living unconsciously is as dangerous as a life-threatening disease (and often leads to it). I'm not yet strong enough to constantly be around robot monsters that crave the city speed of things.
 I never liked small talk until I got here because it's genuine and when I'm in less of a rush (I may never ever be in a rush here, seriously, well maybe a powder day....), it's actually pleasant. I don't look at strangers like they're in my way, like they're going to kill me. My eggs can take a little longer to cook. I can let you go in traffic before me. I can say "hi" to you when we share a hiking trail. Because the less we create walls and labels for persons, places and things, (he is better than him, she is prettier than you) the more obvious it is that we are all connected. Everything. And the more awake we are to every single moment of our experience, every breath, every step, the more we can start to enjoy our lives as they are, right now.

I think a lot of people are sick of New Year's resolutions because so many of them are not genuine. Let's go to the gym! Let's lose 100 pounds! As if the stroke of midnight on this day has some sort of magic to throw our lives into a new dimension. I like New Years. Reflection is important. But the biggest mistake we all make is not knowing that the happiness we wish for and the resolutions we announce are possible with what we already have. And when taking a closer look at our lives and the ones around us, the best resolution is realizing that your life is already pretty fantastic, where ever you are: Toledo on a cloudy day, in Denver on New Years, in the middle of a Tahoe bluebird morning. It's true. Embrace the universal truth that you are beautiful and loved in this moment, without skinnier thighs or a nicer car or being in the "perfect place."

My New Year's resolution is to. Love. You. All.
Everyone of you.
When you're mean.
When you're nice.
When you're loving me back.
When you think I'm annoying.
When you're smelly.
When you hate yourself.
When you're a bully to people that reflect what you don't like about yourself.
When you're beautiful.
When you're talking about me because you think I'm crazy.
When you're awake and when you're asleep.
When you're brilliant. When you say stupid things.

I will love it all. Because loving you helps me love myself.
Stop thinking and planning and wishing for a good life. Living must be felt. So just do it. And have an absolutely radical year.

No labels. Just love.
Happy 2014.