“What a stroke of luck. What a singular brute feat of outrageous fortune: to be born to citizenship in the Animal Kingdom. We love and we lose, go back to the start and do it right over again. For every heavy forebrain solemnly cataloging the facts of a harsh landscape, there’s a rush of intuition behind it crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.” – “High Tide in Tucson”, Barbara Kingsolver
I love a New Year. The way hope collides with commitment to make it feel like anything is possible. Whenever anyone’s calendar anywhere in the world turns over, I take note. Show me your Spring Festivals and Tets, your Diwalis and Rosh Hashanahs, and I’ll pull out the party favours and launch a countdown. Any excuse for a fresh start.
I’m particularly partial to the promises of January 1st. Because December’s a lot. The season’s enforced merriment takes a toll on me. Sure, there are moments of magic and genuine joy, of lights and music and togetherness and deliciousness. But I get too caught up in striving for perfect parties and presents and family and festiveness, and inevitably fall short. THEN there’s the over consumption of goods and food that I can never seem to avoid, the guilt-inducing bloat of my body and my ecological footprint that ensue. AND, since my father died on Christmas Eve, the holiday is complicated with grief that makes me feel at odds with the surrounding celebrations.
So then relief, when the calendar turns the page. A welcome chance to begin again, put some distance between me and the previous month’s excesses and difficult emotional territory. I emerge from the holiday gauntlet ready to embrace healthier ways of being, to embark on the year that lies ahead with renewed intention and purpose. It feels like I’ve rejoined the world, synching up with the collective energy of so many finding ways to recommit and reconnect. It’s a great time in my meditation practice, my body and mind ready to buckle down and do the work, energized by the hope that newness inspires.
Fittingly, we start this year at CEC exploring concentration. Concentration blooms in these conditions of energized commitment. While our resolve is still strong, we’ll practice the discipline of starting, again and again, to notice the present moment. Dedication to this practice illuminates a great gift of concentration: that we have a choice in what we pay attention to. And that our minds can get freer when we exercise that choice.
Concentration practice is simple, yet not at all easy. The restless habits of mind and body run deep, and rewiring them requires effort, intention, and perseverance. Fortunately, we have the momentum of not just a new year, but a whole new decade to ride upon, a massive blank slate to inspire us.
Now I know, and you know, most New Year’s resolutions fade with time. They just do. Soon enough life happens, and knocks us off our mindful game. The good news is we really don’t need to wait another 364 days, or 10 years, for another chance to start fresh. In each moment lies the possibility of newness, empowered and illuminated by our choice to pay attention to it as it unfolds. And if that doesn’t work, well, Chinese New Year is on January 25th this year.
Let’s begin again! And again and again and again…
p.s. Speaking of freshness, CEC has a whole new programming wheel launching in 2020! We’ve spent the past three years exploring the same monthly themes, getting to know some tried and true ways of meditation practice. To kick off this new decade, we’ll be investigating a whole slew of different practice paths, things like Rest, Healing, Engagement and Appreciation. Check it out:
wheel design by Kevin Lacroix