On this New Year’s Eve, when many of us are thinking of new beginnings, I am thinking of the many endings encountered in 2015. While the year has held many joys, we have experienced much tragedy and grief in our personal lives, as part of our community, in our nation, and throughout our world. Typically, I’m the type of person who is able to muster optimism and rally the troops, but I find that I am unable to summon hope right now. What I am thinking about, instead, are family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and pets gone too soon–before we were ready. But are we ever ready? When should the last breath be? Of what should the last conversation consist? How should the last interaction go?
As humans, we are blessed and cursed with cognizance of our own mortality. We know we have limited time on Earth, yet we blindly deceive ourselves into thinking that the time is unlimited. We choose to ignore the possibility of our own demise and happily pretend that our loved ones are permanent fixtures in our lives. While these attachments are certainly the stuff of life, and good ones at that, they also lull us into a lack of awareness of just how precious each interaction, conversation, and being is. We don’t reflect on our carelessness in the grocery checkout line, lack of listening to our children, inaction in response to a homeless person in need, lack of interest in the education of girls in Afghanistan, or harsh words to our spouse; we assume we will have more time or someone else will take care of things. Wake up!
Each moment is a gift. Is the argument with your [fill_in_the_blank] worth spending the next few days fuming, or is it your pride that’s hurt? Do you really need the extra five dollars in your purse, or could someone else really use it? Must you really get that last parking space, or would it make someone’s day to have it offered up? How do you want to spend your precious time on this planet?
When I look back over the last year and wonder where the time went, I realize that my best moments were spent when I was present–talking, laughing, meditating, sharing, even doing chores, but in a mindful way. While I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, there is something to be said for having a date that marks a clean start. Thus, in 2016, I will endeavor to be more present and mindful, especially in my interactions with others. In order to cultivate these relationships, I’ve decided to leave Facebook and Twitter. While I find social media incredibly useful with many benefits, I also find that I waste far too much time that could be better spent in a more productive and fulfilling way. It will be tough; I love to see status updates, family pictures, and funny videos, and my ego is stroked with “likes” and re-posts. Instead, I’ll stick to the therapeutic effects of writing on the blog and connecting one-on-one with people.
In closing, I’d love to connect with you via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), text, phone, snail mail, blog comments, or in person. My wish for 2016 is that we all wake up moment-to-moment and savor each amazing experience. Much love and hope to you for a year filled with beautiful beginnings!