So, 12/21/12 has come and gone, and here we still are! Phew!
These past few months have been tiring, complicated, sad, and full of opportunities for growth. My energies have been focused on healing and introspection as we try as a family to find the new normal, over and over again. We are still scrambling a bit to find our footing, but I think we are well on our way.
I am grateful for the arrival of 2013, and the new beginnings it represents. I have never been one for resolutions, but this year I do feel that we are in the perfect place to push the reset button and make a fresh start. The chaos of Hurricane Sandy and the holidays and the flu has passed, and we are finally settling back into a routine.
Last year, in lieu of a resolution I decided to pick a word of the year. My inner geek loves the challenge of picking one word to embody my aspirations for the coming months. Merriam-Webster picked two words for 2012 – “capitalism” and “socialism”; Oxford American Dictionary chose “gif” (pronounced “jif”, FYI); Dictionary.com chose “bluster”; and the American Dialect Society gave the honors to “hashtag”. Personally, I don’t find any of these words particularly compelling, but whatever.
As for my personal Word of the Year for 2013: NOW. My challenge to myself is to cultivate mindfulness and presence – to be here now, to attend to what is true now. Now. And….now.
I am reading Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh, and in it he describes the nature of life as a Buddhist monastic: we sit, we walk, we eat. But doesn’t everyone do those things? Yes, says the Zen master, but when we sit we know we are sitting, when we walk we know we are walking, and when we eat we know we are eating.
How often do we perform a task while our minds are in another place altogether? I know I’m not the only one who gets in the car and starts driving only to arrive at my destination with no recollection whatsoever of how I got there. Instead of attending to what is in front of me, I’m worrying about the past (which I cannot change) or the future (which I cannot control). And I miss a lot along the way, not to mention the fact that this is not the surest road to mood stability.
I’ve started meditating regularly, and while it is often a struggle to just keep my body on the cushion – never mind cultivating a still mind full of concentration and focus – I have definitely noticed that I am much calmer and more able to meet difficult people and situations with compassion, patience, and attention. I am a better parent, a better friend, and an all-around better person when I can stop the monkey mind for a moment and just do what I need to be doing NOW, whether that be listening to a story my kids want to tell, having a productive conversation with someone at work, understanding what a friend needs from me, or even paying attention to what I’m putting into my body instead of just shoveling in whatever food is convenient at the time.
So there you have it. What about you? What is your resolution or word for the coming year?