2. Try not to hurt anyone.
Those are my resolutions. They’re the same ones I have every year—not because I fail every year, but because they’re the kind of resolutions that grow and change and I can always get better at them. They’re not so black and white that I’m tempted to throw in the towel in six weeks, and they’re not rooted in the belief that something about me needs to be fixed. They’re more about making the journey—this journey we’re all making—a little bit better. I know they don’t seem like much next to the lofty goals of some people to “lose 25 pounds” or “stop eating junk food” or whatever….but it’s all in the interpretation.
See, I think that we’re all here for a reason—probably many reasons. Usually I think we’re here to learn something, to teach something, to save someone, to be saved by someone, to love someone, to be loved by someone. Probably several combinations of those things. And I don’t think we get to know in advance. I don’t think anyone announces that “this person up the street—she’s someone you’re supposed to learn something from, so get ready.” I think these things come to us as opportunities, dressed in all kinds of ways. If you miss it, you miss it—and you’ll probably never know that you did, which is all the more reason to pay attention.
Okay, if you happen past a burning building and you run in and rescue an infant, then it’s pretty obvious that you had the opportunity to save someone and you took it. But it isn’t always that obvious. In fact, I think it’s almost never that obvious. Consider this: imagine that you’re at the grocery store. Imagine that you’re in a hurry and the cashier is slow. She seems to be taking her own sweet time and the minutes are ticking by. By the time you get to her, you’re already late, you’re frustrated, and she hasn’t sped up one bit. It’s tempting at that moment to be short with her, to snap “I’m in a hurry!”, or something less polite. But what if instead of doing that, you consider that there is something to be done here—learned or taught or saved or helped or whatever? And what if you stop to think that maybe, just maybe, she’s slow because she’s tired? What if she was up all night with a sick baby? What if she’s still half crazy with worry but she can’t afford to stay home? What if that were you? And what if, instead of snapping at her, you smile and tell her you hope things slow down a bit for her? Or even mention that she seems tired and ask if she’s okay? You’ll never know the impact of that kindness. Maybe it won’t matter. But it might. Maybe that little bit of support will give her the boost she needs to push through until she can get home. Maybe that bit of human kindness is the only one she’ll get all day. It’s not saving a life….but it might just save a human spirit for a minute or an hour or a day. That feels important to me.
That’s what I mean about “doing your best” and “not hurting anyone”. I mean, being present, paying attention to those souls who share the planet with you, taking every opportunity you can see for learning and teaching and growing and loving and saving. I mean living every second in conscious mode instead of on autopilot. I mean trying not to miss anything that might grow you, feed you, nurture your soul—because lifting up someone else always lifts you up, too. It just works that way.
So yes, those are my resolutions. To do my best, and try not to hurt anyone. And because I’m human, I’ll mess it up. I’ll get impatient and I’ll get tired and I’ll miss at least as many things as I catch. But not hurting anyone includes me, so I’ll forgive myself that. The beauty of this pair of resolutions is that falling off the wagon is nothing more than a missed opportunity—and that the opportunities are as plentiful as my willingness to be open to them.
Listen, I heard someone say the other day that the essence of life is that it can go away at any time. I agree with that, so I don’t want to waste a second of it beating myself up over my less-than-perfect thighs or forcing myself to eat foods I hate or whatever else passes for positive growth this time of year. I want, instead, to use every second I can to learn and teach and save and be saved and love and be loved. I think that’s what I’m here for. If I had to put it into the form that resolutions usually take, I’d say this:
In 2007 I resolve to listen more closely, see more completely, take more time, love more utterly, open my heart more fully. I resolve to learn all I can, give all I can, accept all I can (receiving is as important as giving—it’s a gift to allow another person to give to you), and to think of every soul I encounter as the precious thing it is. Including my own.
A very happy and safe New Year to you and yours. Remember how utterly precious you are.