Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year, good ways

            Its so good to be home!  As I write this, the moonlight on the snow is soft, mesmerizing in its simple beauty, each tree gently rendered against the pale blue-grey of night snow. I am happily domestic these days, cleaning and restoring the house to its pre-bachelor days, but dreams of painting and writing haunt me at night, so soon I must pull out my brushes and get back to my writing before school engulfs me again. This means reorganizing where things have been “resorted” in my absence, so I can get a good space with light for the painting, and peace and quiet for the writing.  I am also catching up on sleep, and the pleasure of living without deadlines for a while.
            The past few days I’ve found myself thinking about the coming New Year, and rolling around the various thoughts that make up my annual review of What I Want My Life to Be.  This year is a bit different from the past. Oh, losing twenty pounds is still on the list, and probably will be permanently, but it seems to be the only carryover from the past.
            Instead of dwelling on all the things I should do, this year, I’ve surprised myself by looking at what I did accomplish – and there have been wonderful things, unexpected and challenging. Friends made, studies pursued (successfully), and a new, natural way of life that I am integrating into my being. Most of all, I’m happy, engaged in life, and better friends with myself.  Its not that 2011 was uneventful, for it was scary in spots, but it was also rich and fruitful, both personally and for those I love and cherish.
            What would happen if in general we chose to look what we DID do instead of what we didn’t?  What if we founded our desires for the New Year on the strengths within us instead of feeling like we have to correct weaknesses?  Oh, yes, we will still strive, but won’t our striving be more successful if based on love of ourselves and others instead of self-hatred and loathing?  Okay, I know that loving oneself is hard to do the first time one confronts the extra pounds in the bathroom mirror, but a diet based on guilt and self-hatred is going to be over quickly and without success. It works that way for the important things, too.
            There is nothing in this series of thoughts to suggest that we stop taking responsibility for our actions. We live with ourselves and with others. We need to act in a caring, loving manner, so that our love, our care, and our intent can frame a better world for everyone.
            The concept I’m talking about is loving-kindness, kindness towards ourselves and others. Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun, talks about how the desire to “fix” oneself is essentially a form of aggression against our inner being. It involves the basic premise that we are wrong, which is truly a lousy starting place for real growth. If instead we look at who and what we really are, and what we want to accomplish, if we bless ourselves onto our chosen path, then we can move forward with our strengths carrying us, and not our weaknesses. Our intent is stronger that way. So is our level of success.
            Besides, we’re worth all the love and care we can give to ourselves. We are the expression of God, bringing love to this earth. Our thoughts count, our hearts count, and our spirituality counts. Its going to be a splendid year!

Spirituality is love, and love never wars with the minute, the day,
one's self and others.

                                                                             St. Thomas Acquinas