It’s only a minutes away (Mountain Standard Time), but 2017 cannot come soon enough. It seems a lot of people feel this way (see John Oliver’s popular “Fuck You 2016″). I started 2016 stupid happy, but it gradually became the hardest year of my life. Looking back, it’s some consolation to think I learned the lessons I was “supposed” to learn and spent almost two months traveling because of the resolve and intuition I found, but I also realized that it doesn’t matter how many planes you get on or how light you pack. You always carry on your thoughts in your head. A cleanse was definitely in order.
A few years back, a friend mentioned a New Year’s Eve tradition in which she writes a list of all the crappy stuff that happened to her and throws the list into a very drunken bonfire. I decided to try it–Beating Path style.
I did some quick research on Burning Bowl ceremonies, but my Catholic upbringing wouldn’t let me get too far into unapproved witchcraft, so I decided to just kind of wing it. I ripped up pieces of pretty stationary and wrote down the things that hurt and the things that helped in 2016. I also wrote down a lot of lyrics, because Bob Dylan and Sara Bareilles just get me. I gathered a few necklaces (including the one I wore every day during my solo travel and an owl charm from my friend to serve as an animal totem), hung them off the branches in a tree, lit a few candles, and sat in the snow. It might not have been pretty or elaborate or official, but hopefully the Universe speaks the language of effort.
Writing down the bad things in short,matter-of-fact phrases made me focus on the truth (i.e. “this one thing went wrong”), instead of the horror story it’s easy to spin around that nugget of truth (i.e. “this one thing went wrong and it’s my fault and it will always go wrong and…”). [Read my lengthy post about this phenomenon here.] It also surprised me how after I wrote a negative thing, I could automatically write a related positive thing. It was humbling.
Lighting the little pieces one by one was actually a lot of fun. I was shivering in the snow in the dark but smiling like an idiot. I also think the image of certain papers burning will help me in the future. Like if I’m dwelling on a certain bad memory, I can now conjure up the image of it burning and crinkling into a little black rose petal, and say to myself, “Stop it. You lit that little fucker on fire, remember?”
Below are some categories to help you brainstorm things to write down, along with some songs to help with lyrics (or to have playing in your headphones while you pyro). All the songs can be found on this Spotify playlist. You can be as silly as you want–a lot of my papers had Disney lyrics. That shit can be downright inspirational.
Jesus Take the Wheel: Things, People, + Situations You Need to Stop Trying to Control
Que Sera, Sera: Sly and The Family Stone
I do NOT like the original Doris Day version. This one is better.
Let It Go: Idina Menzel
I know. But, Idina.
Saint of Impossible Causes: Joseph Arthur
Sometimes you gotta delegate to the professionals.
Let It Be: The Beatles
Bad Romance: Release Relationships that Mess with You
Gravity: Sara Bareilles
One of my favorite songs of all time. Beautifully explains the pull toxic people can have on you. I prefer a live, stripped down version with only a piano.
Lost on You: LP
The lyrics are so repetitive, it almost becomes a mantra. I heard this all over Europe, but I’m not sure if it’s having an audience here in the States. I am not cool. I do not have a finger on the pulse of these things. Again, the live version hits harder.
Let’s a raise a glass or two
To all the things I lost on you
Tell me are they lost on you?
I Gave You All: Mumford & Sons (Featuring Nostalgic Tweed)
And you rip it from my hands
And you swear it’s all gone
And you rip out all I had
Just to say that you’ve won
Well now you’ve WON
My Oh My: Tristan Prettyman
Thank You: Simple Plan
My middle-school betrayal anthem. Really gets the blood boiling.
Don’t Think Twice: People You’re Ready to Forgive
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright: Bob Dylan
I like the Peter, Paul, and Mary version better, but I like the passive-aggressiveness of the lyrics. Bob Dylan forgives, but he’s obviously not forgetting.
Eye of the Tiger: Intentions for Inner Strength
I’ll Make A Man Out of You: Donny Osmond (from Mulan)
Honestly, nothing will get you more pumped. So let’s get down to business.
You Gotta Be: Des’ree
Rise: Katy Perry
This chorus literally helped me survive 2016.
Independent Women: Because We Had a Rough Year
America’s Sweetheart: Elle King
Survivor: Destiny’s Child
This One’s For the Girls: Martina McBride
Girl on Fire: Alicia Keys
Beautiful Disaster: Jon McLaughlin
Bridge Over Troubled Water: The People Who Stuck with You
Stand By You: Rachel Platten
I’ll Be There For You: The Rembrandts
So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke
Your love life’s D-O-A
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
Oh when it hasn’t been your day
Your week, your month, or even your year
In the Middle: Embracing the Unknowns & The Present
Downtime: Jo Dee Messina
A little boost of confidence that the bad times pass. And that bubble baths and time can fix a lot.
Uncharted: Sara Bareilles
Marry The Night: Lady Gaga
To me, this song is about cozying up and getting familiar with the hard, heavy, dark stuff in your life. Get to the middle. Feel it. Cause you’re strong.
Float On: Modest Mouse
End of the Line: The Traveling Wilburys
Somebody once said that when the WORST person in the band is Roy Orbison, you know you have a kick-ass band. Seriously, google who is in the this band.
The Right Place: Monsters of Folk
I Wanna See You Be Brave: Intentions for 2017
How Far I’ll Go: Alessia Cara (from Moana)
A New Day Has Come: Celine Dion
Send Me on My Way: Rusted Root
In Your Shoes: Sarah McLachlan
Everyday People: The Rembrandts
You can build up the wall, but we’ll tear it down
Times They Are A’Changin’: Bob Dylan
Thank U: Alanis Morissette
All about self-love and learning. We could all use some more of that.
Thank you DISILLUSIONMENT!
Thank you frailty, thank you consequence
Thank you, thank you SILENCE!
I know I missed a ton! So please give me your additions in the comments.
I’m trying to finish up my trip to Manhattan in the next week or so, so stay tuned!