There's a tradition here in the Netherlands of running into the ocean on New Year's Day, much like the Polar Bear Plunge in Canada. The first Nieuwjaarsduik took place at Zandvoort (a beach close to Haarlem), but it now happens at 137 locations throughout the Netherlands and participants get orange Unox toques and pea soup (called snert or erwtensoep). This year, a record number of more than 50,000 people did it!
We were not among them, sadly, as we were too wrecked from our partying the night before to get to the beach in time. But we still made it out there by bike just before sunset to touch the water and toast shots of speculaas gin. What a year it's been!
It was around New Year's last year when we made the decision to leave our lives behind. We had travelled to Tofino and Victoria for the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve, and we finally drew the line in the sand. There's something about the ocean; it speaks to your soul, and then punches you in the gut. Listen, or drown.
I remember how desperate we were to escape 2014 and saying 'yes' to everything that scared us felt so thrilling and so right. It was now or never, and we were going to make 2015 the most awesome year of our lives.
It's still hard for me to believe that's exactly what we did. Looking back, I cannot believe what we have accomplished together and how much we've grown in just one year. We made the impossible possible.
That is part of the problem with life-changing resolutions. Do we actually want to know just how powerful we are? Do we want to see the world of possibilities that lies just beneath the surface? Going against the grain means sacrifices and difficult choices and frankly, hard work. Do we want to go there, or can we be content with the life that has been plotted out for us by chance and former choices?
We did it last year. We made 2015 the most awesome year ever by bucking "the plan" and doing something crazy by any sane person's standards. It was the best choice we've ever made. But now what?
Real talk here, New Year's Day 2016 came and went, and I felt a little anti-climactic about it. There are some things we need to do to keep this adventure going like securing employment, but maintaining the status quo, no matter how awesome, doesn't seem like much of a New Year's resolution. I'm ready for the next chapter, but it's not so clear what that is, or what the first steps are to getting there.
The truth is that I'm scared of what's next. I miss the certainty and the foolish abandon with which we pursued our Awesome 2015. As our bank account grows smaller, it gets harder to do things without knowing exactly where we're going. I think too much and do too little. It's not just money, you see, but belief. Belief that we can do it again, make our year into whatever we choose, in 2016. And in 2017. And even in 2050.
I keep thinking about Nieuwjaarsduik. Hordes of cheering people in nothing but bathing suits rushed into cold, but for the moment still, waters set a clear tone for the new year.
Dive in. Do more. Say yes.
So, 2016 is the Year of Doing More, and especially saying yes to things that scare me. The Year of Awesome was a good start, but the Year of Doing More means this lifestyle isn't just an 365-day anomaly. The adventure continues...