A few years ago I made a New Year’s resolution, to never make another New Years resolution.
It has worked out well for me so far, and I’m proud to say I haven’t broken it even once.
I’m not good with goals. Goals only remind me of how wrong everything I have planned will inevitably go.
It’s kind of like when I clean my whole house for “company” and then my guests are greeted by whatever the cat threw-up on the welcome mat five minutes before they arrive. I am a walking advertisement for Murphy’s Law.
It does not help that my intuitive crystal ball, which should be helping me predict the future, has been made cloudy over the decades. It is clouded by broken hearts, and broken trusts and my own artful ability to procrastinate and to stick my foot in my mouth.
But, the crystal still reflects.
So, at this time of year, I sit for awhile in the big fat lap of melancholy. Tiny epiphanies peck away at my feet, and I stare into the mirrored shell of my crystal ball.
Me, with two faces.
I am like the Roman god Janus for whom the month of January is named after.
He was the god of new beginnings, and of gates and of doorways. The doorway is my favorite and it is how I like to imagine Janus, described by scholars, standing in a doorway with one face looking into the past and one face looking into the future.
I wonder what advice the two faces would give to one another if they were to chat? I wonder, as I look into my own reflection, what I would like to tell myself regarding what I wish to see before me and what I wish to leave behind?
I think I might tell myself some things like this.
Love yourself. Not in that loud conceited way the world might tell you but in the way you would want someone you care deeply about to also love themselves.
Be gentle on yourself without giving in to laziness or stupidity.
Give yourself a kick in the rear every now and again, but don’t beat yourself down.
Do the best you know how and let that be enough.
Stop being mean to yourself, wishing you looked differently, or thought differently, or had different talents.
This kind of self-loathing is not being humble, it is just being cruel. One day you will want to apologize to the “younger” you and wonder why you were so cruel to begin with.
Make others love themselves as well. Smile, genuinely give compliments, and leave situations positively.
These things are doable, you just have to be willing to do them.
The course of someone’s life can be changed with one endearing act.
I know because my life has been changed by one smile, by one compliment, by one tender attitude.
You do not know how other people suffer, but you have suffered, and so remember what you needed and then give this to someone else.
I heard a quote not long ago that “there are angels everywhere, doing ordinary things, in ordinary clothes.” It is the day to day events that matter, as you do them make kindness your ordinary.
Don’t be too quick to judge others. I think I may need to raise my voice a little to make myself understand this.
You see, sometimes we judge other people based on the way in which we “perceive” ourselves to be more perfect.
Their sins are not our sins and so their sins are more sinful. Don’t think like this.
We are all just people and people are flawed. Be merciful, not malicious in your attitudes. And never make the mistake of thinking you are beyond making any particular mistake.
Empathy should be the filter through which you view others, not self-righteousness.
Be thankful for those people you are blessed with now, and remember those people you have lost.
Recognize the best parts in them, and treat those parts in a way that you would want to be treated.
Take the worst parts of them, and forgive those parts as you would want to be forgiven.
The best advice on living with other people is given in the book of Romans, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
This does not have to be a resolution, or a goal, but just simply a way of life. And life, every so often, can be very good.
There are so many more things I would like to tell the woman in the reflection, but the clock does not stand still.
It is time to take a step through the doorway, past Janus, and on into the New Year. Looking around it looks much like the old year, but with so many more chances.
This column is dedicated in memory of Matt McGregor Jr., my son’s best friend, who was a light that drifted in and out of our home, making us feel special, showing us how to be accepting, and making us remember that of all the commandments given, the greatest is to love.
You will never, ever be forgotten.