Resolutions don’t work for me. If a change needs to be made, why not make the change right away? But seeing as it’s a new year, why not move to make positive change starting now?
I write in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2018, strong coffee to hand, hypnotic music unfurling. The world outside is quiet, the midnight fireworks having done their thing some hours ago. Right now I feel a greater optimism about 2018 than I can remember at the start of any new year of recent vintage. We can make everything better (it can’t, as the Beatles once suggested, get no worse).
Brian Koppelman – writer and podcaster par excellence – has just tweeted the following wonderful words on how we should approach our respective 2018s:
“Love to you and yours this new year. Be kind. Be vigilant. Chase that secret dream or hope or idea that your truest, quietest voice is whispering to you. Live it full out. And leave 2017 crying in a heap in the corner.”
Live it full out. Today is as good a day as any to embark on a new path.
You will be punished by your anger
If I could change anything about the world in 2018, I would have everyone recognise anger for what it truly is, and think twice before giving vent to anger. The other day, the @ZenProverbs Twitter account posted some perfect, simple words of Buddhist wisdom:
“You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.”
Anger is arguably the most pervasive and certainly the darkest influence on the modern world.
Furious anger and chaotic uncertainty have run rampant these past few years. As 2018 begins, we remain on the other side of the looking glass. Old certainties and freedoms, basic decency and political and social cohesion are under serious threat. 2018 will undoubtedly see anger and frustration continue to be misdirected and cynically channeled to help achieve dark, greedy ends.
We will see so much to make us despair at humanity. But equally, there will be so much to remind us of the good at humanity’s beating heart.
Anger was not invited
The Manchester One Love concert – held to benefit the vicitms of the despicable terror attack on an Ariana Grande show – was the most inspiring event of last year for me. I described it at the time as “a spectacle to melt all cynicism”.
Grande showed a perfect understanding of human emotion, swiftly organising Manchester One Love to provide an emotional release for those directly and indirectly affected by the attacks, while generating funds to help the victims and their families. Anger was not invited. As I wrote at the time:
“In the midst of chaos, I think it’s more important than ever to be clear and certain in one’s outlook, to be intolerant of anger, and to respect and celebrate the intrinsic worth of every human being. Our emotional lives have an important role to play. […] Through clarity on our emotions and values, and by treating every human being we encounter with the respect they deserve, we can all play a tiny role in working toward a better world.”
Control over the here and now
Yesterday (31 December 2017), David D’Souza shared his words in a great post for Kate Griffiths-Lambeth’s annual #AdventBlogs series. He argues that while a new year is an arbitrary point in time, it’s as good a time as any to shed that which no longer works for us, and to renew our focus on that which serves us and helps others. David says:
“We are shaped by our past and our experiences, but also by those experiences yet to come. The past does not determine the future unless you let it. And we have control over the here and now and how we react.”
We can all of us be clear on our emotions and values. We can all of us ensure that each of our actions reflects and upholds our emotions and values. Anger doesn’t have to be invited.
Live it full out.
- Pic at top as drawn by mjcarty this very morning.
- The One Love Manchester logo. You can still donate to this excellent cause here.
- The sun rises over the Thames, as viewed by mjcarty from Temple on Tuesday 19 December 2017.