We have some family friends who have made it their tradition to go work at the D.C. Central Kitchen, a prep kitchen to feed the homeless, each year on the morning of New Year’s Eve. It seems like an appropriate flourish to end the Christmas season, and this year, we got to go with them. We were immediately suited up with our disposable aprons and gloves as Greg (whose friends, I noticed, called him Baby G) gave us the lay of the land.

I was assigned to peeling and preparing sweet potatoes, which thing I rejoiced in since I was always the person on potato-peeling duty for Sunday dinners growing up, and I’ve something of a knack for it now. It was not my first time working in a prep kitchen, but I was interested to wile away the better part of morning getting a taste of someone else’s life and wondering what’s in store for my own.

That homeless shelter kitchen is run largely by volunteers, but for people like Baby G, that’s his daily reality.  It’s during this time of year, when the smell of cinnamon and pine and things that are served with gravy is fading from your house, that you begin to revive your vision of what you are and what you want to become and how the coming years’ events can get you there. It was in the throes of my newest vision of myself that I spent a morning of dabbling in the life of someone else, and I realized how fluid and variable my life’s tale still is.

I could do anything. I could be anybody. Excuse the enthusiasm, but I just got clean-slated at midnight on the 31st and I’m feeling bold and ready.  Every year I feel like this for about the first week and a half of the first month of the New Year. It’s then that I make ambitious goals and resolutions that I’m sure will have different outcomes than they did the last 12 times I made them. I feel on top of the world with that revitalized vision of my optimum self clutched tightly in my hot little hands, and I’m ready to go.

Give it two more weeks though, and I’m already spent. I like to think that my life is a fairly consistent upward climb, but those elusive resolutions are more fragile than Murano glass and before you know what hit ‘em they’re broken.  I was sitting in sacrament meeting today basking in the feeling of a fresh start and dissatisfied with the thought that the freshness will inevitably ferment as it does every year, and I thought how grateful I am that the sacrament tray comes around every week instead of every year to revitalize my vision of who I could be/who I’ve actually always been.

The Lord’s organization is so inspired. Would that I didn’t take it for granted. He knows that we’re not going to get through this life with one giant, legendary leap every January 1 that renders us brilliantly ahead of where we were just ten seconds before.  Our climb up the ladder to our dreams has to be one lovely wrung at a time and by giving us this weekly reminder of who we should be working towards becoming, he’s giving us all we need to step onto that next wrung.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said; “the heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night.” I’m not about to dismiss what it means to begin a new year–this feeling’s just too good, but should the meat of your year turn to night, continue to toil upwards that when the sun rises again you’ll discover you’ve reached new heights.