Note: The following piece was first published back in 2017 in a now-defunct local paper called the Caroline Progress. It also appears in “Disappearing to Notice: Collected Writings from the 2010s,” which will be available on Amazon sometime in the near future, maybe.

“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community.” – Mark Twain

I didn’t know what to do the day after Christmas. So I stayed in my pajamas until 11 a.m. and wandered around an empty house, battling a vague emptiness in my gut and scrolling aimlessly through Twitter — which, of course, is the worst thing to do when you’re battling a vague emptiness in your gut.

The joyous spirit of the season had abruptly vanished, thieved from under the browning Christmas tree by shifty hands overnight. I milled about, ate some yogurt, and tried to regain my bearings in the world, alone. My fiancee was out and about. My friends had already returned to work. It was just me and the dogs, and they were busy chewing bones. They knew nothing of the existential pain that haunts us humans after Christmas’ departure. Really, they just wanted the bones.

Thus I resolved to do what any good citizen mired in a temporary depressive episode would do: write a poem. Poetry is an outlet for the weak, I always tell myself, half-jokingly, yet I always return to it, like a mouse drawn to cheese in a trap.

Here’s an excerpt from that poem, which I titled post-Yuletide blues:

No more “ho, ho, ho”
No more old St. Nick
No more, anymore, any of it

Wipe the crust from your eyes, old child, you
It’s 10:30 a.m., but too early yet
Fix a pot of the black, yes
With a hint of cream, yes
But no sugar, no

The holiday hangover is a real thing, even if you’re similar to me and don’t consume John Daly levels of alcohol like some of your friends and family. There’s a fantastic dopamine rush that comes with opening gifts and eating chocolate and laughing with relatives, but when it’s all over — BAM! — the void opens up and swallows you whole.

It’s not a deep void, mind you. Nothing a little scrawled poetry and dog-petting and coffee-chugging can’t pull you out of. And thankfully for all of us, the end of the Yuletide season is unfailingly greeted with a fresh beginning in the form of a New Year, an optimistic time for growth and rebirth or, as a Millennial might put it, personal rebranding.

There’s a fantastic dopamine rush that comes with opening gifts and eating chocolate and laughing with relatives, but when it’s all over — BAM! — the void opens up and swallows you whole.

This means something different for everyone, of course. Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds and want to redefine yourself as a gym-goer. Good, do it. Perhaps you’ve recently been hitting the eggnog too hard and want to sober up, either temporarily or permanently. Fantastic, get started. Maybe you’re bored in your career and ready for a new challenge. That’s great, NOW MAKE A CHANGE.

I’m not sure what the long-term success rate is for New Year’s resolutions, but I imagine it’s hovering somewhere in the 2-percent range — and even that may be a generous estimate. Even so, there’s no harm in attempting to start something new. The journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step, a wise man from China once said. Take a chance; maybe something will stick. And if it doesn’t take right away, you can always return to it and give it another shot. There are no timetables for these types of things. As long as you’re still among the living, a change can always come.

I have one general goal for the New Year: become shamelessly creative. I know, I know, this sounds like a gimmicky buzz-phrase from some inspirational Huffington Post article about unveiling a “better you,” but I’m being earnest. Creativity, in all of life’s venues — in conversation, on the page, on the canvas, in the recording studio, at the office, and literally everywhere else — is, I think, one of the key elements of living a fulfilling life.

(Take it from me. I am, after all, 28-years old and entirely wise to the ways of the world. What else could there possibly be for me to learn?)

Write poetry, even if its sub-par. Keep a notebook of your sub-par poetry. Feeling it in your hands will bring about a sense of accomplishment. Learn how to play an instrument. Record an album on your computer. Put everything you have into it, even if you’re too self conscious to let anyone else hear it. Draw and color and paint and sketch, and save everything you create. Each creation is a snapshot of a specific point in your life; your creations as a whole, then, will act as a sort of yearbook for you to look back on.

All this talk of creativity reminds me of a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, I author I never really got into, for whatever reason, but an author I respect, nonetheless:

Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Now shake off those post-Yuletide blues and start something new.

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