Many of us look to January 1st as a mark of a new beginning. An opportunity to start over, to leave the past behind and look ahead to the future. We set goals, intentions and imagine how we, and our life, can be better than the previous year.
Western culture seems to love the ’new year, new me’ mindset. Out with the old and in with the new. In some ways this is great — we feel like we have a fresh start, full of enthusiasm and potential. It encourages us to reflect and re-evaluate. But a new year doesn’t bring magic, real change is often harder than we think. It takes patience and effort. And sometimes trying desperately to forget something or someone just brings more discomfort later on.
What I believe to be an important part of growing and healing (which is essentially what we’re looking for with our resolutions), is to develop an expansive outlook on life. Learning to see the whole. Not labelling time or events as distinctly good and bad, or seeing a beginning and an end. But seeing life as the beautiful continuation that it is. Acknowledging and appreciating how all of the moments gently weave together.
With this perspective we begin to notice that beautiful experiences tend to come out of darkness and usually when we feel a sense of unravelling, its hinting to the beginning of a great transformation.
2020 seems to be a year that we all want to forget. It was painful, uncomfortable and nothing like we expected. But, and i say this with full care and consideration that each one of us would have had a completely different experience, it also bought a gift. An opportunity to look within.
On an individual level it allowed us to stop and be present. To show up to our lives - to ourselves, our relationships, our situations. No where to run. It became more clear what was bringing happiness and what was not. We began to notice what we wanted to align with, and how to move in that direction.
In a broader sense it made us aware of one of the most fundamental truths of life - that beyond this moment, nothing is certain. We live as if we have forever. Making one year plans, five year plans, waiting until tomorrow, taking things for granted. In these seemingly small and insignificant ways, we are constantly avoiding this truth. I’m sure the thought of tomorrow not coming has crossed your mind, theoretically it makes sense. But 2020 made us feel it. Nothing is certain.
This can be terrifying, overwhelming and frustrating. Or it can be exciting.
There is a saying within the Buddhist tradition ‘a precious human existence’. This existence isn’t precious in the sense that humans are better than others. But this existence is precious because we have this opportunity to understand the transient, impermanent nature of life. To appreciate this very fragile moment.
Imagine waking up every morning and instead of letting the thoughts roll of how tired we are and how we need more sleep, we started thinking ‘wow. I woke up. It wasn’t guaranteed.’ A cliche, i know, but it is truth. Every day would matter. We would give more thought to how we want to live, how we want to treat others, to treat ourselves. What kind of impact we really want to have. This way of being would make every moment meaningful. A life full of purpose.
So instead of making lists of resolutions can we focus on this one simple practice. Awakening to this moment, this opportunity, to your own precious human existence.