New year’s resolutions. It’s that time of year when we pause to look back and wonder what we might change, wish to change, resolve to change, even commit to change.
For whatever reasons, this is that moment in time on the Western calendar that reminds us to look at what is important and what we would wish for in our lives that may or may not be present.
I say I don’t make resolutions, but, in fact, this is the time of year when I do set aside time to think about where my path is leading and resolve to make changes as needed.
As I walked on the first day of the new year, I was drawn to the smell of salt water, so I resolved to walk by the sea. Well, so much for resolve! Nature won out as the ocean took over the beach, leaving me to walk down each of Laguna’s stairways to the sea and back up again.
Still, I enjoyed every minute and even got the extra exercise of the repeated stair-climbing.
This brought to my mind what can happen with resolutions: we have good intentions, but one thing or another conspires to keep us from the manifestation. What happens to the promises we have made to ourselves? Do we adapt or give up? Does it matter? A life filled with recriminations — toward self or others — is not much of a life, to my way of thinking.
Too often, I have seen people who have made resolutions and then been unable to keep them for any number of reasons. This all too often leads to self-recrimination, and this is the part of resolutions that really bugs me because I find it counter-productive — especially as it pertains to getting a life. How can one be moving into a life that matters if busy beating oneself up about “shoulda” and “oughta” stuff?
In a commencement address at Villanova University in 1999, writer Anna Quindlen spoke of meeting a man she considered to be one of her best teachers some 15 years earlier.
She was in Coney Island doing research for a story on how the homeless survive the cold winter months.
As she and the homeless man sat on the edge of the boardwalk where he said he spent most of his time, she asked him why, even in the cold, this was how he lived. His answer? “Look at the view, young lady. Look at the view.”
Ms. Quindlen ended the commencement address with those same words from this man with nothing, telling the graduates to “Look at the view. You’ll never be disappointed.”
I couldn’t agree more. But I would take it a step further, perhaps. Look at the long and the short of it. Enjoy the moment or bear up under the tough part — whatever it takes.
“Look at the view” may be inward as well — not with a sense of self-recrimination, but with love, gratitude and acceptance, and with a view of continuing on a well-chosen path.
When looking inward, ask questions: What got in the way of my resolve or my goal? Did this perhaps in some way enhance or slightly alter my quest? Do I really want this? Stop and smell the roses, look at the view, and more. Even get caught up in the wonder of it all.
Yet, when done, remember the promises made, stay focused or refocused, and simply continue on. When the tennis player misses because her eye left the ball, the game is not forfeited. Play the game of life the same way.
I say that whatever resolutions you might choose, resolve also to do so without recriminations or fault-finding. Keep learning. When you truly set out to get a life filled with meaning and do so filled with love and gratitude and acceptance, I, like Anna Quindlen before me, say you’ll never be disappointed.
Happy New Year. May your dreams flourish and grow.