(adapted from a journal excerpt written December 31, 2009 at 11:30pm)
I never know quite what to do with this whole New Year’s Resolution business. Part of me says “yeah, I want to do that” and part of me says, “what’s the point, I never can seem to make those changes permanent” and part of me says, “why should this day be any different in trying to make myself a better person and this world a better world”.
To me, taking each day as a new day is something I strive for, because when I can manage that, It’s easier to make each day the best that I can. Mostly, I’m not too successful in taking one day at a time, but on the days (or moments) that I am, anything seems possible.
Too often, I find myself carrying yesterday’s resentments and disappointments over into the new day. But some days, I secretly want to hold on to my disappointments, anger, resentments and grudges. They seem like my armor of knives, like porcupine quills, ready to strike anyone at a moment’s notice, that way I can strike before I am once again betrayed. (never mind that my quills also keep out affection and love and joy, etc.)
Too often, I find myself carrying yesterdays grievances in my heart, weighing my soul down into a stagnant muck. What my soul wants to do is to laugh and smile and fly loop-de-loops of joy and dance to the endless spiral rhythms of the whole range of present-moment emotions from excitement to grief to joy to anger to love to excitement to….
I was looking at a very young baby recently and this baby was smiling. The baby’s smile made me smile. I commented that people always say that newborns can’t smile, that it is only gas, but I don’t believe it. The mom (or another adult, I can’t remember exactly) said that it’s not gas, it is smiling and that recent studies confirm that humans are born with the ability to smile. Smiling is an instinct, an innate part of being human. Offhandedly, I responded with what I thought was going to be a smart alack remark. I said something along the lines of: “maybe our natural state of being is joy, and we muck it up somewhere along the way.” That just felt true. Oops- I meant to say something ridiculous. And oops- that that idea somewhere along the line of life, has come to feel absurd as a possibility. But the truth of it still rings in my heart.
Perhaps, like a newborn each day, I need to leave past distractions aside and smile for the warmth of another being’s presence. Smile for a belly that does not contort with hunger. Smile for a bed and a nap. Smile for a clean change of underwear. Smile for the feel of the wind’s breath. Smile for another’s beating heart. Smile for the memory of another’s beating heart. Smile for the sound of cats purring me awake. Smile for the pressure of dogs pushing me to the edge of my bed as they nestle in closer and closer in dream-filled sleep as they smile dog smiles for the warmth of another being’s presence. As they smile dog smiles for a bed and a nap…
As ambivalent as I generally am about New Year’s resolutions, maybe I will do this: I will try to, each day, make a New Day’s resolution, to forgive the past discontents and allow myself to be in the moment (which at times is bound to contain its own discontents, but only its own) and to allow for the possibility that joy is my natural state of being. The actual manifestation of that possibility often feels a long way off, but I know that even remote possibilities can become everyday accepted realities (ie: a black U.S. President, interracial marriages, Helen Keller becoming an honored master of communication, a lesbian mayor of Houston…).
In order to not carry my porcupine defensive mentality around from day to day, I need to remind myself to practice what I preached a few months back about forgiveness. I need to remind myself to forgive myself and those I love (and those I don’t love) everyday, or at least as many days as I am able.