The end of September marks the beginning of my personal new year. November 1 began Samhain, the first season of the new year in the ancient calendar. But January 1 is the beginning of the year in the Gregorian calendar by which most of us mark time in our secular world.
It is a time for resolutions — an amazingly apt choice of words because it is a word that looks two ways, like Janus for whom the month is named. We normally use it on January 1 to describe what we resolve to do or be in the coming year. However, it can equally be used to reflect on (to resolve in the sense of ‘bringing to conclusion’) the past year: Who have we been and what have we done in the last twelvemonth? ‘Resolution’ is a good word for a cusp.
Perhaps this year before we leap to commit ourselves to all the ways of being that would make us the ideal person we think we should be (physically fit, spiritually centered, emotionally mature, financially secure and responsible, professionally successful, relationally wise and compassionate), we may want to spend some time pondering the lessons of the last annual cycle. Perhaps we might find it fruitful to sit with a question like, “What totally unexpected wisdom did I gain this year?” or “What three accomplishments did I ignore because they weren’t the ones I planned for?” or “Whose life did I bless when I was busy doing something else entirely?”
…because we do have just the teeniest, tiniest tendency to compare ourselves to the mass market definition of ‘good’ and ‘worthy’, and to ignore the splendor and wonder of our unique being. We do tend to live right past our most amazing gifts and blessings while focused unwaveringly on some goal that isn’t ours in the first place. We are easily tempted to ‘live someone else’s life’ as the poet David Whyte describes it — trying to take on the shape of a life that looks more interesting, more applause-worthy, more (seemingly) meaningful than the one we have been given.
What if we agreed not to buy into that illusion this year? What if, instead, we chose to celebrate the deepest, truest, most radical (as in, ‘at the root’) Self that is the divine imprint in our own individual soul? What if we directed 90% of our energy (as opposed to the 1 – 2% that I suspect most of us give) to being fully who we are…rather than to who we think the world thinks we ‘should’ be? What might the world look like twelve months from today if we all set out to accomplish our unique vocations rather than setting out to become carbon copies of each other? What if we believed we are enough in our personal giftedness — whether those gifts are housekeeping or being Speaker of the House? [Trust me, the Speaker of the House is worried about spending enough time with her/his family/children/friends, or how to become Senate Majority Leader and make a real difference in the world.]
I will confess that this is not something at which I excel. But I think it is a far far better resolution for 2015 than writing in my diary every day, or never losing my temper with my husband, or lifting weights four times every week. I am resolving to try to be myself and live my life with joy. In that spirit, I share this reflection from a colleague — may it bless you today and through the year ahead:
A year is gone.
It matters not when it began
For it has ended now.
There were other years,
And some began with a birthday,
And some with a death;
Some with one day of the month and some with another.
Some began with a song and others with a lament,
But today I start another year, whatever the month or season;
It is what lies before me that concerns me now.
There will be decisions and tasks;
There will be drudgery, achievement and defeat;
There will be joy and grief,
All the raw stuff of experience
Waiting for me to shape, to fashion as I will,
And it will never become just what I planned,
However it may appear to others.
I can turn it to knowledge and wisdom.
If it be hard, I can make of it strength:
It may become bone, sinew and steel
Or ashes and waste.
Some one might say, “It all depends on what the year may bring,”
But what I make of it depends on me.
–Robert Terry Weston
Happy Eve of 2015!
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2014 Immram Chara, LLC
NOTE: The photo is of my newest piece, Shrine: Green Man, which is available through my Etsy Shop. The Green Man (or, less frequently, Green Lady) is common to many cultures, representing the renewal and resurrection of life. In the British Isles, he appears also in the guise of the Holly King.