In anticipation of the new year, I’ve purchased tiny pink cans of champagne, a blank Moleskin planner and a new purple ballpoint pen. With only two days left to overindulge in Christmas cookies and make plans for an overly anticipated NYE, I’ve set my mind ahead to 2014. Will my gung ho “fresh out the gate” enthusiasm for the next twelve months dissolve under the pressure of routine, procrastination and reliance on destiny? Only time will tell.
Glancing back at my 2013 planner, I witnessed small snapshots of my past year. I remembered meeting friends for the first time, auditioning for plays and dance groups, accepting a job, noting birthdays I remembered (or forgot), and a brief 3-month obsession with hot yoga. The experiences, mistakes, scheduled appointments– all filed away in the pages of months gone by.
How much do we change year to year, moment to moment? Years can pass us by without any noticeable change while a single event may alter the way we view our role in the world forever. My journal entry dated December 26th, 2013 read remarkably like my entry dated exactly one year earlier in 2012. I had the same feelings of nostalgia surrounding Christmas festivities as an adult, insecurity about my future, questions about the definition of home and the absence of romance in my life. Have I changed? How can I tell? Is change tangible, pencil marks on the wall for each inch and every year taller, or a continuous wave ebbing and flowing with the cyclical tide?
If I was to pick a New Year’s Resolution, it would have something to do with mindfulness. Mindnessful, “a state of active, open attention on the present (Psychology Today)” is linked to Buddhism and the practice of meditation. In his book A Gradual Awakening, Stephen Levine compares our thoughts to the cars of a train and encourages the reader to step away from the continuous flow of images and experiences, letting them pass by and disappear around the bend. I’m sick of being overbooked and underwhelmed. I will strength my resolve to live fully within these precious moments with a greater awareness of time and space. We have, after all, only ourselves to suffer with, to love with and to cherish.
Every year is given to us as a gift and it is up to each of us how we use the mystery beneath the wrapping paper.
I found my mantra for 2013 while bending forward over my legs inspecting the stubby toes that protruded from my feet. Sunday morning was here again along with my weekly power vinyasa class. A grid of rainbow mats extended in all directions, defining invisible boundaries of personal space. Brandon called out from the front of the room and we began a new transition in a wave of energy. A forest of human spines erupting through space.
Root down. Reach up.
In vinyasa yoga, movement and breath are connected through conscious intension. The mind is aware of the body and in turn, the body is aware of movement and air flow.This morning, in the ritual of sun salutation, I became aware of my emergence into the new year. I tried to define my challenges and goals. Brandon began to speak, to relate yoga to our daily lives. My mind drifted and returned as I struggled to maintain a focused practice. Root down.
Roots prevent trees from toppling over during harsh winds and heavy snows. They pull water and nutrients up from the ground, pry sidewalks apart and grow together in tangled balls beneath canopies of green. Roots can give humans their history or take it away. My legs become one trunk and my roots push past rubber and wood, down through the studio floor.Children without roots wander aimlessly in search of family history and a place to call home. The ceiling fan blows warm air through my branches overhead. Reach up.
People who walk with eyes skyward often benefit from an uplifted disposition. The sail attached to a sturdy mast will always capture the wind. The whispering kite has a reliable base and taut string while individuals with continued success have built a grounded foundation. We cannot choose where our roots begin or where our stories start. But we do have the power to build our roots, strengthen our base and reach toward the heavens. Dreams are only limited by the fungal disease of our self-doubt.
I leave you with my motto for the upcoming year. I hope it provides you strength as you move forward in your own life.
“Root down through the earth. Reach up to the stars. Everything is possible.”
The world needs some New Year’s Resolutions. With all that has happened in 2012, it’s time for us to reevaluate how we individually treat one another and collectively function as a planet. And while these thoughts might be idealistic, we are all we’ve got. Change starts with the human spirit.
The World: New Year’s Resolutions for 2013
Foster long-distance relationships between forgotten friendships.
Help neighbors rebuild a sense of community.
Inform people that the physical capacity to have children is not a good enough reason to do so.
Create the impetus for immediate action surrounding climate change.
Give all hungry children food.
Plant more trees.
Have those with plenty give to those with few.
Eliminate racism and hatred.
Remind those with a soft bed to be thankful. Every night.
Breed acceptance for those who are different from what we know.
Stop all weapons from hurting people.
Live within the means of the Earth.
Shower one another with renewed hope. For the future and for ourselves.
Happy New Year.