‘Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions. We make them, we make fun of them, and yet the psychology of the new year is that it gives us a feeling of closure of the year that ended. The feeling that we can leave the past behind and move forward with a resolve to do better, and be better people. Of course, the past is something we can only leave behind so much. While we are in the present and we ought to live like we are, we are forever creating our past, just like we are forever carving our future. The multidimensionality of life is something we cannot escape.
I make resolutions every year although being a pragmatic person, my resolutions involve goal-setting and planning. I have schedules and timetables attached to my resolutions because while I believe in resolutions and I enjoy the psychology that a new year gives me, I do not believe that resolutions are tantamount to hopeless wishes that a person has no control over. I pick a few things in my professional and personal life and I endeavor to work on them throughout the year. So part of my resolutions is having a plan, with the stipulation that life will definitely throw some curve balls; it always does.
Plans – I’m good at making them. I’m getting better at executing them. But in life, there are only so many things one can plan for. And oftentimes, it’s the things that we don’t plan for that change us the most. A few weeks ago, I attended a family friend’s uncle’s funeral. He, and my brother who lives in Chicago, have been good friends since their college days. He was giving the epilogue for his uncle and it was very difficult to watch and experience. The death was untimely, unfair, and unplanned for.
As I listened to all the epilogues however, his uncle, who I had very brief encounters with, was a man who enjoyed his life; he lived his life. How many of us can say that? How many of us include “living” in our plans for the new year? We get caught up in achievements and personal gratifications to claim one status or another. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting a better life in material and significant ways. But there has to be a balance, and more importantly, there has to be a desire to always and truly live.
I know that we’ve all got bills to pay and responsibilities and obligations that sometimes seem unceasing. Many of us want to be great and with that comes one sacrifice after another – all of which usually involve a sacrifice of time. I get it. We’ve got education to obtain, and things to buy, and titles to work for, and they all take time. And time is life. But somewhere along the way, we have to look beyond these things that we’re trying to get and trying to be, and put them in their place. And above all, we have to really truly learn how to live.
Living means taking risks and being uncomfortable in whatever moments we find ourselves in, and being okay with being uncomfortable. Living means being in a sometimes difficult reality but endeavoring to find solace and even joy in the most painful moments of our lives. Living means having hope and faith and always having love, in order to see that although life is always difficult, it is always beautiful. Living mean despite our past failures and our hopes for the future, we are always present in the very moment that we are experiencing, because if nothing else, the next moment is not guaranteed.
Do you realize that you and I could die today? It could happen; we don’t like to think about it but it could. And then what? Our plans will die with us. I don’t know for sure what happens after death although I have a faith that tells me that it doesn’t all end here. But for all of us who have been blessed to see a new day, who will be blessed to see a new year, we have to recognize that it is not something that we have been given by anything we’ve done or not done. But we are here and I think we owe it to ourselves and each other and for all of us who believe – a Creator – to live a good life, a full life, a loving life – a life that is worthy of having said at the end our days, “Yes, I have lived.” Let us all resolve to live; to be as happy as we can be; to do as much as we can with what we have, to endure what we must, and to enjoy this gift that we have been given. In 2014, let us all resolve to live.