Resolutions at 1° on 1/1

From my kitchen window I watched the last day of the year close down. Streaks of coral fire, warmed the purpled underside of cloudbanks stretched across the luminous cerulean of an otherwise unclouded western sky. A spidered tangle of tree limbs was stenciled against this riotous backdrop.  It took but a moment for this glory to fade into the final dark of the year’s last night.

It’s early, now, on the first day.  The thermometer reads one degree. The first degree of what the temperature of this year will ultimately be. A near-full moon is muscling its way through that same spidered web of limbs, shining its torch across the deer-trailed, rabbit-tracked, squirrel-scrambled snow of my back yard.   If more snow had fallen in the night, the yard would be wiped clean again; a fresh, smooth blanket.  A clean slate. An empty canvas. A metaphor for the blank page on which the chronicle of this new year could begin.

But it didn’t. All the garbled calligraphy of what was, remains written, unchanged in the journal of what continues today.

It is our tradition, on this day, to resolve anew. To make change.  To start clean on a new and different path. But we can’t change what was, and we can’t help but carry it all forward.  I don’t mean to sound defeatist.  I am a pretty consistent optimist. I only mean to remember and reflect as the year, the day, the hour, moves us forward. It may be folly to think we can be or become other that who we have been. But it is not folly to believe that we can choose differently than we did in the past. And thereby maybe alter course a bit.

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Many years ago a dear friend taught me a lesson I am only now beginning to absorb.  She wasn’t doing this consciously, just sharing a decision she had made for herself.  We were in a serious conversation and I asked a question.  She did not immediately respond.  In fact the silence between us began to be just a little uncomfortable.  I was about to ask if she had heard me – or if something was wrong, when she explained that she was trying to make the space to listen to her inner self more actively before speaking so her responses could be more thoughtful and maybe more true. “I’m counting to ten before speaking, these days,” she said.

What a small but profound choice, that could alter the way of being in the world, I am thinking today.  What if we all took the time to actually think, to consult our inner selves, before we spoke!  How would our conversations, our relationships be different? Might we be more honest, more nuanced in our responses?  More kind, perhaps?

This lesson was reinforced very recently by a wise woman who contacted me after a meeting we had both attended. She wondered if there was some way to manage future meetings so everyone was not talking over each other so we could really listen to what others were saying.  I was among the smothering talkers, I realized, and have been thinking about that ever since.

* * * * *

One of my favorite affirmations comes from my little, dog-eared “365 Days of Tao” paperback which I try to use as a daily meditation guide.  This one is from the middle of the year; July 1.

“If the boulders are moved, even a river will change its flow.”

Rather than wait for July to roll around again to act on all this, my resolution today is to try to move one boulder out of the garbled river.  Take one step; move one degree out of noise, into thoughtfulness. Make one small space of silence so that more of what is true and necessary can flow, un-garbled by the jumbled rush of ego.

Here’s a haiku I wrote some years ago that comes to mind now.

Who can understand
the bounder-garbled verses
of the river’s song?

© 2013 Kathleen Cerveny

* * * * *

Finally, here is Deng Ming-Dao’s meditation prompt for today:

“This is the moment of embarking.
All auspicious signs are in place.”

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