To live deliberately is a good thing. Goal-setting and to-do lists etc., certainly get things done. But to be overly deliberate in our living is limiting. It becomes exhausting. Everything has to be gruellingly willed into existence, and the inevitable price we pay is a form of tunnel vision and a loss in natural spontaneity and creativity.
Last night I was watching the firework displays in the different cities around the world and couldn’t help but think of those resolutions we’re so prone to make at this time. I have to confess, that for me, they’re a bit like fireworks – brief and beautiful illuminations, then, gone as quickly as they appeared. I don’t make them anymore. Call me cynical, but that’s just the way I feel nowadays. Having said that, I do enter this new year with positivity and hope and wish the same for you.
We relish in describing ourselves as optimists, and there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s a good thing to be optimistic. However, in my quieter moments, as I’ve pondered on this, I’ve thought of our expressions of optimism as often having more to do with our fears than anything else. It’s a sobering thought.
Optimism is often used as a kind of protective armour we put on to shield us from all the vagaries of life. It’s a way of dealing with our fears. We bury them under a layer of false optimism, while all the time they eat away at us.
Oscar Wilde once said, “The basis of optimism is sheer terror.” Sounds a bit extreme, but I think I’m beginning to understand something of what he meant.
May your new year be filled with authentic optimism and encouragement.
The other day I took our little dog for his daily walk. As I made my way through our neighbourhood, I was suddenly greeted by the lovely aroma of woodsmoke. Some past residue of my Southern Hemisphere mindset found this rather mystifying – what does Christmas have in common with woodsmoke? Then, in a flash – but I’m in the cold English countryside and not only are the homes I’m passing filled with Christmas decoration, but also with, in some cases, burning fires in the lounges. I heard Forrest Gump gently whisper into my ear, “Christmas and woodsmoke, they ‘is’ like peas and carrots.”
I’m not one for certainties, though I’m sure they have their place. Now that may sound a bit wishy-washy and anaemic, but they do have this tendency to shut doors and close down thought and discussion. I lean more to the side of that gracious invitation to look beyond the prisons of certainty, into the wide-open spaces of mystery and endless possibility. So, when it comes to certainties in life, I prefer to hold them in an open hand and bid them goodbye when they need to go.
Watching the changes in Nature, my thoughts have also moved on to those changes going on within us.
I think one of the most beautiful processes is the one that secretly goes on in every human life as it gathers, in the flow of time, its experiences and unites them into a unique inner story of memory and ongoing change. What a privilege to be able to observe these unfolding stories in ourselves and in others, and to partake in creating and shaping them throughout the seasons of life.