As I have gotten older, I am not setting as many goals for the New Year. I find myself more interested in creating intentions for how I want to be, and how I want to be in the world, than I am in setting goals to change my habits or ramp up achievements.
On Christmas Eve I got a good dose of the intention I want to live into for 2013.
We were at home with a group of friends and family, most of whom I only see once or twice a year. The candles were lit and the storytelling was fun. Excellent food was simmering and the evening was already unfolding with cheer and love. The phone rang, and in came the call that another dear friend, a single woman in her nineties, had fallen and was en route to the hospital. I was needed.
As I stepped into the sleeting cold night I found myself slightly resentful, and grumpy to be going to a hospital. “What a lousy way to spend Christmas eve,” I found myself thinking.
Well, maybe not. After a few hours of feeling sorry for myself, as well as for my friend who was in pain, I began to re-think that attitude.
Maybe it was a perfectly fine way to spend Christmas eve. Maybe the point isn’t my expectations or my requirements for how an evening, or a day, or a life, should be, but my willingness to accept, and not resent or refuse what comes along.
Life has lots of wonderful, magical loving and enjoyable moments. But I am not entitled to a life that is just those smooth and fun times. Life is also full of loss and pain, disappointment and mysteriously “wrong” kinds of times. I am also not entitled to the tempting belief that life is all difficulty and hardship. Life, real life, is a bittersweet mixture of both. There are moments of aching sadness and confusion, and there are moments of joy and ordinary happiness. My temptation, and maybe yours, is to resist the events I judge as wrong, and be resentful, or resigned to life defined as loss. Then I color my world gray, and live without much hope or gladness. Or at least indulge in some bad moods and blame. Not much fun to be around!
In the same vein, I can also require life to give me only what I judge as good or “what I want” and miss all the unexpected beautiful and mysterious goodness that permeates my relationships, my communities, and my own being.
So, my intention for 2013 is to cultivate a more open heart – able to receive both sorrow and difficulty, and bright joy and pleasure. I am intending to slow down a bit, and get off automatic pilot so I can drink deeply of the pleasures that are part of each day. I will slow down to soften my heart to the grief and losses which are also part of every day, and let them move through me, instead of resenting and resisting that pain.
It is a big intention – but I want to live boldly and be wide awake. This path cultivates transformation not only for me, but there is spillover for those with whom I live and work. And maybe even spillover beyond that!
How about you?
What do you intend for your precious life this next year? I believe that as we intend, and work to make it happen, we change ourselves, and we change the world.
I am grateful that you are a part of my extended community. Blessings for 2013!