Friday, January 01, 2016
2:06 AM |
To Live in the Present and To Be Kind
I was reminded of this missive about the New Year from Mark Twain, from in his letter to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise on January 1863, as I was contemplating the cultural imperative to do resolutions.
In many ways, Twain is quite dismissive of our efforts to list things that could result to a better us for every annual turn of the calendar, and he is right at prescribing exactly what happens to our efforts in the weeks to come. Nobody -- except for those who gain rare exceptions -- really succeeds at resolutions. But in truth, I admire the humanity behind this enterprise. It speaks to me of an endlessness of hope, of our infinite capacity to see our selves as capable of good despite the temptations of the world and the way it forces us to compromise, to succumb to little evils, to be unkind for the sake of survival. But at the very least, we do try. And some of us do get the reprieve of having carried through the rest of the months with the year's original vision almost intact, perhaps frayed at the edges, but nonetheless whole.
But even given that, I've decided not to make a whole hopeful list of to-do's for 2016. No resolve to diet, to keep in shape, to eat the right thing. No resolve to write at least a page of prose every single day. No resolve to read x number of books per month. No resolve to be more sociable, to be more bullish at work, to be resolute in finishing projects. Last year, I began the year right -- but by February, the heaviness of my expectations, combined with circumstances that surrounded me, eventually drove me into the embrace of burn-out, and a depression that lasted an entire year. 2015 left me exhausted. I am very glad to leave it behind.
So no more resolutions except for two simple things: to try to live always in the present, and to be kind
. The first eliminates worrying too much about what the future could bring (it doesn't matter
) but also opens up a more concrete way of dealing with opportunities that can come knocking at my door. The second allows me to relate to other people in the most fundamental way that is not easily done. But here's to trying.
To 2016, everyone.
Labels: life, new year, resolutions
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