A New Year. What does it say to you, what feelings does it elicit? Being positive– it’s the blank calendar full of possibility. It’s the soul of your actions wiped clean, so the possibility to make things right with someone or some situation is again yours. It’s a list of promises. It can even be a totally clear and definitely new vision.
JANUS, That Guy Has Two Faces!!
The clear flute of champagne or the honest glass of beer is raised to salute another attempt to make things right. We wave goodbye to the positive and negatives of the year we are leaving behind only to welcome the new year with hopefully more positives than negatives coming our way. Such a celebration can be traced to ancient Rome and the feast of the Roman god Janus. Being the god of doorways and beginnings, he had two faces, one looked into the past and the other forward to the future. January of course is named for Janus.
New Year or Decisions Forgotten
After our modern celebrations have taken place with a ball drop, fireworks, hats, balloons noisemakers whatever, we are left to our own devices: does this new and pristine block of time mean anything to us or are we going to plod ahead as we have always done?
Possibly. Magazines and articles on the net (this one included) like to offer ideas about how to MAKE CHANGE. Removing clutter from your life is a popular topic, though it’s grown from putting away holiday decorations to reorganizing one’s life.
Peter Walsh in his book “Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight” states rather profoundly: ONE DEFINITION OF CLUTTER IS DECISION DELAYED.
I actually love that. He suggests that we aim to eliminate the word LATER from our vocabulary. The scenario we all can envision is super simple–if we have decided to do the following later:
- clean the garage
- apply for a new job
- ask Aunt Lucy for forgiveness
- finish a degree.
Because we are in fact CLUTTERING our lives with indecision and when each new year arrives we are feeling badly, at some deep level, about our lives. The cure? Walsh says it’s about creating a new habit. So if every time you walk to the garage and you don’t just set something down on the floor BUT DEAL WITH IT, the job starts to get done. But if you just assume you will never be able to change jobs and don’t search, investigate, redo your resume, YES, you’ll stay in the same job. And if you shun Aunt Lucy or whoever–you get the point. Even family feuds are clutter.
Positive Stuff: Small Beginnings Get Bigger
A beginning can be as tiny as vowing to go through one drawer a week. Only one?? you might ask. Hey yes!! It’s a start. Small starts lead to big finishes and better habits. You could work 30 minutes on that resume and send Aunt Lucy a note–just saying hello.
I’ve written about habit change before in regards to losing weight, avoiding triggers etc etc. But it’s standard and valuable information. Habits make us or break us. If I want people to read Boomer Highway, then I must follow the habit of writing a post at least once a week. I cannot say later, I must say now. And if I need to clear the air with someone, I must begin now.
And habit change of any kind takes work. It is not silly stuff. Because making an attempt to declutter your environment helps declutter your mind. Henry David Thoreau wrote: I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and I threw them out the window in disgust. ...A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.
Negative Stuff, It Still Exists
But the new year doesn’t fool us. Hours after the ball drops signaling our hopes for peace and understanding–the news is full of anger and sorrow. People across the globe still face hunger and war, intolerance and persecution. Refugees are still streaming from their homelands. And I have to admit that making a resolution to clean a drawer seems almost stupid in the face of that angst in our world.
The Infinite Possibilities
But it’s not. Have you ever looked into a mirror that is reflecting another mirror and the image is repeated over and over as if into infinity? It is something to marvel at. Like life. We have to decide to clean that drawer or whatever resolution we make–because it is a start. The change in the clutter and chaos of the world can begin in a simple place–you, your home, your environment. And it then can CHANGE you, maybe in a small way. But in a good way. And that small changes moves out like the reflection in the mirror and touches someone else–eventually. Example: you find in the cluttered garage the box of photos that your mother-in-law has been asking you about for months. Your relationship is buoyed and improved, a small but good thing.
Patch Adams, Viktor Frankl
Making change in 2016 is about choice. As Peter Walsh would say it’s about NOT delaying decisions. It’s about digging in. And when you do, that process changes you and hopefully for the better. The key word is HOPE. Because deep inside each of us is the desire to help ourselves and others. Oh yes, in some people that desire has been stomped on and twisted so that anger and hatred take its place. But healing can occur little by little. I like to think about Dr. Patch Adams who travels the world with his clown costume bringing laughter to the sick and dying. Adams says: the practice of medicine can be a thrill, an exchange so fundamentally loving that it’s difficult to contain the excitement … Scientific brilliance is an important tool, but it is not the magic inherent in healing. Because for Adams it’s the gentle touch, the warmth of communication that truly holds healing power. It’s the human contact that brings hope in the face of living and in the face of death. And are we not capable of that?
Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, and German concentration camp survivor wrote: We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts, comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Thus I am wishing for you hope in this year 2016. I am wishing you good decision-making and the human freedom to choose your way, your path as 2016 unfolds. From small habit changes to big decisions, offer to someone your own gift of hope, it might just be for them that last piece of bread.