Even if we deny the need for or intention to establish New Year’s resolutions, we all have ’em, even if tucked away anonymously in the back of our conscious thought. They are items that we wish we could be better at or that we could improve upon, whether for ourselves of the sake of others. Often they are health-related, sometimes they are financial determinations, occasionally they call us to change some quirk of personality. But they are almost always difficult to live up to and can leave us feeling even more inept or unaccomplished than before. Indeed, some “experts” suggest that resolutions are a bad thing, setting us up for failure or disappointment. I’m not sure whether they are a help or a hindrance, having resolved many years ago never to establish any such challenges.
Yet with New Year’s Eve on our doorstep and noisy parties on so many calendars , I’m compelled to offer my own list of hoped-for personal transformations for 2017. I suppose that any of the following could be adopted by others, without copyright infringement, if the fit was right.
1. I resolve to learn the Spanish language, just as I have resolved for each of the past 10 years.
Knowing a language other than my own grants me a clarity. The essence of connecting with others lies in the ability to express oneself to others directly and personally, without the intervention of a translator or mechanical interpreter. The most painful and counterproductive reality of my work in Nicaragua (even with the impeccable translations of my colleague), is my inability to express personally to another human being what I think and feel. I suspect that no one else suffers from such a shortcoming.
2. I resolve to be more giving of the immense blessings I have received, both personal and material.
I’m just a temporary steward of everything I am, everything I have. I don’t get to take any of it with me when I leave. I’d rather have the enjoyment of giving it away now and feeling the immense pleasure of sharing that which I never deserved in the first place.
3. I resolve to preserve more water.
I can do without TVs and cell phones and vocation and achievement and even the loves of my life. But I need water. (So do you.) I’m going to collect it and be careful with it. What a treasure!
4. I resolve to de-clutter.
While I’m busy giving more things away, I’ll be de-cluttering at the same time. And when the unnecessary elements of my daily living are out of the way, I’m thinking that the important matters will receive more of my attention. Have you ever lost anything?
5. I resolve to be more open to the possibility that newly-elected politicians could actually do some good things.
All resolutions require some time and effort but I really don’t expect to spend much of either on this one, I admit. People could say that I haven’t really resolved much here, but then again, I can think of few current politicians who have given me any reason to expect honest leadership or commitment to the common good.
6. I resolve to stay committed to the preservation of my health and fitness, since no one else can or will.
It’s probably true that I am what I eat. And I am what I drink and how I sleep and how I care for myself. My health and well-being are a product of my own choices and self-care, rather than the domain of doctors and therapists. I’d like those professional people to go along for the trip, but I insist on driving. Who knows, maybe some others might choose to follow.
7. I resolve to learn more about more of the world, since the politicians and the media are not up to the task.
Like everyone else, I’ve always been a creature who is subject to my own personal perceptions about the truth. My life experiences necessarily shape my views of things. But it’s becoming more and more difficult to separate reality from someone’s self-serving spin on the truth. Absolute truth may not even exist, but I need to get closer to it than I am now. The future of the world depends on it.
8. I resolve to better love my neighbor.
It’s what I’m called to do as a moral human being. I know who they are, I know where they are and I know them as both my obligation and my privilege. I just need to better understand how to extend my reach.
9. I resolve to write a book, or at least begin the process.
As I have led organizations and worked with groups around the country (and elsewhere in the world), I’ve come to know that each and every human being has a unique and important story to tell; even the most mundane of lives holds immeasurable gifts. So it must be true of me, too. I want to identify and tell that story
10. I resolve to embrace the truth that peace comes only from within.
I know it’s there, and I have gone to that well more times than I can count over my lifetime. And still, it is not enough that I have sought and found such peace. It is there that my joys and trials, achievements and failures, thrills and disappointments are all reconciled within my life. I know the source of that comfort for myself; I resolve to cherish and foster it.
Maybe your list, if one exists, doesn’t resemble this one at all. But if I was inclined to set myself up for either enriching my life or, alternatively, creating huge disappointment, these would be my revolutionary priorities.
In any case, I’ve still got two days to think about it….