It’s Day 2 of the New Year. 2013 is already strengthening its foothold, but I still chirp “happy new year” at the beginning of each sentence. You’ll hear me say this for at least another week…as long as I can get away with it, really. I love the optimistic nature of this humanity-wide holiday. (I know…frivolous optimism isn’t my strength, but with the help of a useful annual ritual, this human primate can get there almost as easily as the next monkey.)
Planning for New Year’s Eve can be kinda stressful though. We don’t have a tradition we honor every year, as many do, & I really do enjoy celebrating this intentional turning-a-corner-of-time (almost as much as I dislike the immediately-previous holiday). Two (relatively) recent memorable New Year’s Eves were in Japan & Switzerland, & also one with good friends at the local Harbor. This year the two of us had a bonfire in the backyard with detritus gathered from recent home improvement projects – wet & random, a few shots of tiki torch oil helped the fire along…we even made it to midnight to hear the firecrackers & clanging pots. It was great – thank you R…the grilled mackerel was delicioso.
The ritual of new year, of turning a corner, is nearly universal in the world these days. Some cultures still celebrate their own calendars’ new year too, but the new year of our common worldwide calendar (thank you Pope Gregory XIII) is a time for humans around the earth to put the past behind & affirm admirable intentions for our coming cycle around the sun. We do this as humans together, without regard for religion or class or nationality or political party or sexual orientation…as humans, together. Wow.
Apparently most of these admirable intentions, a.k.a. new year’s resolutions, don’t have the desired longevity, but the one I really do make an effort to keep is offering kindness. In the Buddhist tradition it’s called loving-kindness, & tonglen practice helps. I’m also working on the concept of reframing…as in reframing the past. Wish me luck!
& speaking of the past, in 2012 President Obama was re-elected and the Santa Cruz branch rail line moved into public hands. I don’t need to reframe these; along with a huge sigh of relief, I feel a great deal of satisfaction at my dedication to & role in these matters, in particular the latter. So, good-bye to the past year: thank you for the good it brought us, & farewell to the hard times.
I wish you all the best, or at least more sharing, smiles & satisfaction, in 2013. & go Obama! – our greatest president in modern times.
Thanks Linda for this post. I share your optimism at the beginning of the year and find it reassuring that, for all the awfulness in the world, the turning of the year/calendar page allows us to feel hopeful again. I will savor that for as long as it lasts.
maybe the summer solstice in 6 months can be another reminder…
Yes, summer solstice is also a good turning point. I will try to remember!
I don’t do resolutions. I do goals. They’re much easier to keep… what I want to do emotionally, educationally, financially, spiritually, etc. I don’t believe in promising to lose weight (hardly anyone keeps it, so why bother?) or to find a husband (after being divorced for 35 years, I’m too set as a single woman), or to go to the gym more often (right…). Those are failures right off the bat. But there is something about a new year that brings (at least psychologically) a blank slate… a tabula rasa, as it were… with a chance to get it right this time. Well, at least for the first couple of weeks…
tabula rasa – i really like the sound of that, donna. without telling me your resolutions (oops, i mean goals), please tell me your strategies for sticking with them…i’m sure in two weeks (or less) i’ll need the help!
Write them down! They aren’t goals unless you write them down. Figure out what you want to do by the end of the year. Figure out the steps to get there. And then schedule those steps into your calendar… a little bit each month. It’s like eating pizza. You can’t stick the whole slice into your mouth. You eat it one bite at a time. You can do anything by going just a step at a time. And even if you don’t get all the way to your goal, you still are father ahead than when you started.
For example, if you want a new car by the end of the year, start by researching cars you’d like. Then figure how much it will cost you to get what you want. Then determine if you have enough savings or how you can get the money. Then shop around. etc etc. If you think of doing all of that at one time, you won’t be motivated to start. So you break it into smaller tasks and do them a little at a time until the whole task is completed.
And don’t do too many goals. Pick four or five that mean something and concentrate on them.
I think of each day as a continuum, so New Year’s Day has never been a time for me to begin anything not already part of my life. My goals, therefore can be initiated in concept any time of the calendar year. This seems a bit more natural to me, as other primates do not recognize our calendar.
For me, there is natural proclivity to living with the sun and the seasons. At our home, we tend to rise with the sun and settle into home at sunset, going to bed earlier than in the summer months, following the circadian rhythms of our evolutionary past…and present.
For some, the “goal” becomes more important than the present day, which is precious all by itself.
I like this: “Life is only available to us in the present moment. To miss the moment is to miss your appointment with life.” -Thich Nhat Hahn
Happy New Year, Linda, and thanks for your column, which I have enjoyed this past year.
I like this Linda – I’ve been thinking a lot about ritual lately. And I also like the feeling of a new year. Happy New Year!
thanks jean & terry. maybe i’ll do a post one of these days (no, this is not a resolution!) about ritual without religion. hmmm…
i love that picture of Obama. He looks so cheerful! How he can look like that is beyond me, but I hope he finds some joy and hope these days as he fights for the things we all elected him to do!
i agree! this must be an old photo though because he doesn’t look too grey yet.
We have much in common.