"RESOLUTIONS" TO LIVE BY
Every new year, I see something happening. And not only in other people, but also in myself. For a long, long time, I've struggled to put words to this. Being young, I have never been able to find the right way to say it. I've witnessed it, but never, until recently, truly owned it, per se. I didn't quite feel like people would listen to what I am about to write, as credible, coming from someone that hasn't even lived or experienced the "adult world", as an adult. Tonight, I was struck with the inspiration. This new year, I am nineteen, out of high school, and beginning to feel the "adult world" first-hand, as an adult, with all of the responsibilities and pressures that come with it, and the words have finally come to me.
As the Holiday season comes to a close, with the various traditions throughout a multitude of belief systems having completed, families reunited, and food shared, our attention makes a shift. Almost every human group on this planet, even peoples living in those parts of the world that don't have any specific December celebration, recognize this pivotal time: the reigning in of a new year. This truly is the only time when all the people of the world come together, and recognize their commonality: The opportunity for a fresh start, for hope, for new experiences, for good fortune, and of course, happiness. First, we look back on the year past, and ponder it's influence on us. We recap the experiences, both good and bad alike, and think about how they have affected us. Some of us see only the negative, honing in on the disappointment, the heartache, and the suffering we had to endure, wondering how we even survived up to this point. Some, in the most serious sense, may be awed by the fact that they are alive. Others will focus on the positive alone. Every perfectly beautiful moment, all of the joy and abundance, their happiness and their health. To these individuals, life is in perfect balance, and they want to continue that. The majority of us will fall somewhere in between, leaning towards one end or the other. With all of this in mind, we then look to the new year that is fast approaching. Instead of remembering, we imagine, and ask ourselves a few things. What does this mean for me? What will happen in the next twelve months? What changes should I make? How can I live my life better? Until at last, we are brought to the infamous new year resolutions.
Resolutions are an interesting thing. Some people go all-out, making a list of fifty "changes" they would like to make before the end of the year, with the best intentions to follow through. Some people might post a little half-hearted snippet on Facebook, with a few tasks that they put up more so that people see it, and less so that they actually want to change. Then we have those that take mental notes of a few things that sound good, and tell themselves that they'll try their best. Some, like myself, will write blog posts, and some people will write personal journals. Throughout all of these different goals, ideas, and good intentions, most of us have one thing in common: we won't really follow through. Come on, you know that the guy working a sixty-hour week, trying to raise a family and put food on the table, probably isn't going to make it to the gym EVERY single day. Those of us with our sugar addictions aren't just going to stop drinking soda, you know you'll slip up eventually. You know those self-proclaimed Christians that don't really fully believe, but feel like they have to? Are they really going to attend church every Sunday? We all have the best of intentions, but after that initial inspiration of the new year flitters away, after all of that excitement fades, and when the reality sets in of dealing with another year in the same life you've spent all of your years creating, all of these lists and resolutions become empty mantras that we keep at the back of our minds. All of it, locked away, to deal with at a more convenient time. But here's the thing: there will never be a more convenient time than right now. Ever. As long as you live, you will only know this exact day, this exact moment, and this exact breath. Everything else is either a memory, a dream, or a combination of both. Memories serve to help you realize change, and dreaming helps us to take those steps to do it. The problem is, most of us will do both of those things, but refuse, in one form or another, to take action.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not Buddha, and I haven't reached nirvana. I'm not exempt from any of this. I constantly tell myself all of the changes I'm going to make. I'm going to eat healthy ALWAYS, exercise DAILY, give MORE to charity, live a BETTER life, live as a BETTER person. And, like so many others, I hold on to these ideas. But, if you only see these things as ideas, then that's all they will ever be. Furthermore, so many of these ideas that people hold on to don't even make any sense.
Seriously. A good portion of the changes people want to make are fairly superficial, or in all honestly, just plain stupid. Again, I'm not exempt, but really… "I don't want to drink ANY more soda!" Oh yeah? Well, congratulations, I hope that works out for you. Especially while you continue to consume candy, processed food, and drink until you're sick every weekend. "I want to go to mass every Sunday!" Well, for starters, you should probably practice being kind and courteous to your fellow man, read the bible (you'd be surprised how much is in there), and stop gossiping with the girls every Friday night. Yeah, I'm talking to you, American housewives. "I'm going to do nice deeds for people on a regular basis!" You know that barista at the coffee shop, who you yelled at for accidentally giving you a latte, instead of your americano with room for cream, making you late to work? Yeah, she's actually a person, with real problems, doing her job just like you, every single day. Or, consider for a minute, that she might be working even harder than you, and putting up with more shit in a week than you will in a month. You, for instance. This isn't me being a self-righteous douche, either, I'm just as much at fault. I'll put myself over the flames for a bit. I recently went on a tirade about monosodium-glutamate, or MSG, and all of it's negative effects. I went on about how it's poisoned all of our modern food supply, and how I am NEVER going to eat processed food again. For a while, everyone that cared to listen, and most of those who didn't, heard about it. Not that it was necessarily bad, I DID have the best of intentions, after all. I just wanted all of the people I cared about, and even those I didn't know, to be able to live healthier lives, and know of this terrible thing that I'd discovered. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I'm shoveling into my mouth all of the chocolate, candy, and holiday junk food that I can get my hands on. And everybody else gets to watch! Wow, what a hypocritical, self-righteous, douche-bag. As it happens, even those of us that seem to be concerned with, or "aware" of, obscure things more than others, are still human beings. I had the recognition, but I still struggled with follow-through. My point is, most of us hone in on the detail itself, and don't take a look at the bigger picture. Those of us that want to stop drinking soda, is it really the soda we want to stop drinking, or do we really just want to become healthier? Those that want to attend mass every Sunday, is mass really the goal? Or is it cleansing the negative in your life, and bettering yourself as an individual? Do you feel lost? Those that want to give more to charity, is it because you actually want to do charity work itself, or is it because you feel like you take, take, take, and don't give enough in your daily life? When I preached about MSG constantly, was I only saying people shouldn't have MSG, or ultimately, do I really just care about people, and want everyone to be more aware of what they're consuming? These are the bigger pictures, and these are the things that we must fully understand before any change will occur in ourselves, and others as well.
Moving forward, I want to enact change. I don't want to MAKE these changes happen, I want to become them. To live and breath them. I don't want to talk about them anymore, because I've said all there is to say. This is the problem. So many people have no intrinsic motivation for any of the many things on their lists. They simply know that life can be better, and that they need to change, but they don't know why. Instead, they talk about it, they humor it, perhaps so that somebody will help them. They might have a few reasons, sure, but they don't allow themselves to truly feel it. They might not even know how. But I'll let you in on a little realization that I finally felt, while sitting in the Wasilla Pool office, complaining about all of the things of modern life that piss me off, and how messed up our society is. It finally hit me, truly hit me, that all of these things I was recognizing as wrong and twisted, are directly tied to exactly what I was doing. Talking, wishing, and imagining. But that's the only thing I was doing, and all of that is only the first step. Recognition. If you really want to change all of these things that you make lists about, all of these things that you use to self-inflict pain on your psyche, all of these things that make you feel less-than, you have to stop. You have to stop what you're doing. You have to stop the patterns, the habits, the rituals. Stop flapping your mouth. You have to essentially, stop everything, push it away, and in its place, make room for these new seeds to grow. You must wipe the slate clean. I know, that sounds extreme, like some sort of life-long task that a monk commits himself to a monastery to complete, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about ceasing to do all of the things that make you unhappy, in every way imaginable, which then paves the way to do the things that will. You can't be healthy and also eat fast food every day for lunch. You can't really be a Christian and live the kind of life you've been living, and even then, is that you're what really searching for? And giving money to charity, but not feeding the genuinely helpless, homeless people that you pass every day, is not going to make you feel like you're bettering the human condition. Don't think about making life changes as spell check to a word document, or editing your interests on Facebook. It's not compartmentalized, and you live every piece of it one-hundred percent of the time. Instead, you're writing a new novel; one that is void of all of that baggage that you so desperately want to free yourself from. A new novel where you will find inspiration in the way you feel, in the smiles you create, in the effects that ripple all around you when finally, you genuinely honor and respect yourself, your goals, your wishes, and the people that you share this life with.
If you have to quit your job to do what you've always wanted to do, quit that job immediately. Don't waste another valuable minute doing anything else, there aren't enough to spend on being pissed off and unfulfilled. Have you always wanted to help build a school in Africa? Do it, tomorrow. And if you have to save up a little money first, start, right now. Want to explore Europe or live on the sands of a beach somewhere? Think about what really matters the next time you want to buy that pair of true-religion jeans, or that coach purse. For those that are less fortunate and feel like they'll never have enough, how often do you find yourself focusing more on those aspects rather than problem-solving, and searching down every avenue to earn a little extra money so you can go and make that trip? Are you in debt? Why? Chances are, you're attempting to live a life that you haven't built the means for. Have you always wanted to make your kids happy, but felt like you could never give enough? Start today, right now. Go and tell them how much you love them, how much they mean to you, and how incomplete you would feel if they weren't in your lives. This is all you need to give them, because that's the only thing they truly want. Love and support, all of the time. That's it. Call up your friends, your family, tell them the things that you always think about but feel like you've never had the opportunity to say. How old are you? Do you think you're going to live forever? Would you honestly be satisfied with the way you've lived, with the things you've done, and the way you've affected those around you? Today is never too soon to be happy, and it's never too late to change absolutely everything.
Regardless if you are Muslim or Christian, and believe in the afterlife, Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh and believe in reincarnation, Pagan and believe in the beauty of nature, non-religious and follow Darwinism, or any small, large, or medium belief in-between, we all have one thing in common: we know of this life, and are living it at this very moment. Whether or not you think that you're going somewhere better, or that you'll come back, or that you'll simply cease to be, we are here, and we are here right now, together. It's time to quit resolving ourselves to the unhappy motions we've created, and BE the changes that we wish for. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is standing in front of your vision, except for yourself. A giant looming facade of self-doubt, disbelief, resentment, and pain, that tells you otherwise. But as real as you think it is, it's nothing but that: a facade. One that you have painted, perhaps with help, but, one that only you have maintained. One that I have maintained for myself.
Let today be the day in which all of that shifts. Let today be the day that you free yourself, that you look around and appreciate everything that you are, all that you have, all that you are becoming, insignificant or little as you think it is, and then let every day after that be just as good and better. Throw away, or begin to purge, everything that hinders this. You don't have long enough to do anything else.
This year, I have a few things that I want to become, and after having said all of that, I would like to share some of them:
First; honoring myself. Living my life completely genuine to who I am. Doing every single thing that I want to do, saying the things that I want to say, as long as it respects everybody else, and allowing myself to think the things that I want to think. More importantly, not letting the fear of rejection, ridicule, and failure hold me back. We're all too important for that. We all have too much to give.
Second; honesty. Telling the people that I love, and even those that I don't know, that I think they're beautiful. Telling those people that have influenced me how much of a positive beacon they've been, and how much I appreciate them. I want to let everyone that I come into contact with know that they're worth it, all of the time.
Third; reaching out. If I ever see someone that needs help, or guidance, or inspiration, I want to put myself out there. Regardless if they choose to take it or not, I will never know unless I try. All of us would be surprised at how much people are willing to accept if you offer it. At the same time, I want to recognize when offering would be detrimental to my own being, and realize when people are taking too much.
Fourth; forgiveness and empathy. I don't want to take everything as a personal slight. I want to realize that most of what people do is a representation of what they're going through as individuals, and that by just understanding and forgiving them, you can help them come a long way. A lot of people don't even realize the gravity of what they're doing unless you tell them, and help them to move past it.
Fifth; being positive. Not focusing on the negative, because the more stage time that you give it, the more of an elephant it becomes. I want to freely hand out genuine positivity to other people, as well as honor it within myself. Water the flowers, not the weeds.
Sixth; expanding my perspective. I don't want to be stagnant, ever, in the way I view reality. If it's reading a short proverb daily, or an essay someone across the world wrote each week, or asking somebody about their life story every month, I want to think more, understand more, ultimately enabling me to become and give more.
Seventh; slowing down. I want to take more time to do the things that give me peace, that allow me to recharge and regroup. I want to get enough sleep to feel good every single day, I want to meditate often, and overall, give myself some time to process what's been happening in my life.
Eighth; improving my physical being. I want to be healthy in all aspects. I want to eat natural, whole food. I want to exercise regularly. I want to stop inflicting mental harm on myself. Not because I want to look good, not because it's the right thing to do, but because it makes me a happier individual, and a more complete person. Because it makes me feel more in touch with this life, with all of these people, and this place we call home.
Ninth; letting go. Letting go all of the resentment, all of the anger, all of the unresolved shit that I carry with me on a daily basis. Letting go of the things that are not within my control, and recognizing if they are. None of us are able to grow well if we're weighed down by anything, and neither are we if we believe that we can't fix our own problems.
Lastly, if this is the year that I die, I would like to know that I have lived the life I have always envisioned. I would like to know that I have helped somebody through a rough time, even just once, that the people I cared about always knew it, that I was always genuinely concerned about the quality of life that others lived, that I always respected and honored myself and my thoughts, that I always respected and honored others, that in every aspect I was always genuine in the things that I said and did, that I always took chances, and never had any regrets, that I refrained from doing anything against my conscience, and paid my dues if I did, that I never once had to stop and ask myself, "What the hell am I doing?", and if I did, that I always made every change necessary to fix it. I want to have lived a life that constantly bettered the world, myself, and everything around me, if only for the blink of an eye.
My only goal in writing this is that it enables someone, somewhere, to take a step back, and take a look at the bigger picture. I hope for someone to entertain the thought that life is worth a lot more than false promises to yourself, the weekends, and that 9-5 job you take occasional holidays from. I hope that someone, somewhere, uses this holiday as a stepping stone to grow as an individual, and to take hold of their life instead of always riding shotgun. No more resolutions; no more tomorrows. My hope is that everybody, everywhere, gives themselves the option of making a real, life-long change, and that everybody gives themselves the option to be happy, because there isn't a single person who doesn't deserve it. Finally, I hope that at some point, we will all come to realize that this very moment is the only thing we can be certain of, and that we hold on to the people that give it purpose. When we reach that point at last, I have a feeling our world will look much different.
Every day of my life thus forth, to 2012 and beyond, or not, welcome.
-Kevin Snavley, 31st December, 2011