Have you made any New Year resolutions?
If you have, do you think you’ll keep them?
If you don’t keep them, will you be angry with yourself and denigrate yourself for failing to succeed in your ambitions?
If you do keep them, what will be the reward, and will this reward require sacrificing things which give you pleasure?
What do these resolutions mean to you?
What does ‘resolution’ mean?
Is it a re-solution? Are you re-solving or resolving something?
“Each man had only one genuine vocation – to find the way to himself….His task was to discover his own destiny – not an arbitrary one – and to live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one’s own inwardness.” ― Hermann Hesse
I don’t make New Year resolutions.
I’ve tried doing it. I like to try things for myself to see for myself what it’s all about, and find out if it works for me.
New Year resolutions don’t work for me – that’s the result of my experiment with them – they tend to work against me and create an added stress of more self-hate, self-criticism, self-reflection of a very negative and non-productive kind than I have already. I can work with what I already have, adding more to it makes it less workable. And so I have decided that I can easily avoid piling on those pounds of stress by not doing it.
That is a solution which does not need resolving or re-solving.
“But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Recently I read an insightful and inspirational article on an intriguing blog (which is sort of about astrology and sort of isn’t) wherein the author reviewed what he had gleaned from a book he had read and enjoyed.
“She opens the chapter describing her physical discomfort, while sliding on her stomach beneath the family Christmas tree one evening, to doggedly place an ornament on a rear branch that remained bare. All the while complaining to herself how the rest of the family is in another room, disinterested, gathered in front of a blaring television. She finally declares to her husband, who suddenly walks in on his wife lying face down beneath the tree: “Next year I’m not going to have a tree.”
“Why?” he inquires. “Because no one cares anymore,” she explains. “It doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”
The chapter progresses, as one by one other family members come into the room and begin to help decorate the tree. As she explains, the tree has a sort of magnetic pull, from the past and into the present, throughout the lineage of a family, “as if the conical shape of the fir tree were an inverted vortex, exerting a centripetal force, drawing us at the same time upward and toward the center. It draws us together both in time and in space. It is reuniting us with our parents, who passed the custom on to us, and with one another.” Finally, the tree is complete and radiant with light. And that’s when Heyneman has her revelation.
She hears herself speak to everyone gathered in the living room: “Do you know what it is? It is the whole universe, with stars and planets and plants and fruits and birds and animals.”
“Up there” — she points to the space above the tree — “is the invisible, out of which everything comes.”
“And the point at the top is the big bang, the singularity where everything enters into space and time. And then it expands downward, producing everything that is: stars and planets and fruits and animals and birds.”
She continues to make distinct associations: “…lights for stars and baubles for planets.”
“Someone must have intended that,” she continues. “I never thought about the meaning before but just blindly repeated the ritual, spurred on by the wish that my children should experience what I myself experienced as a small child.”
A Christmas tree is a magical transformation she explains, filling a room with a finer kind of substance — something “vibrating at a higher frequency, many colored, fragrant, softly glowing, exciting…” Making things feel more alive. “A wonderful intelligence was at work behind the appearances.”.”
– via A Mystical View of the Christmas Tree – a review of The Breathing Cathedral by Martha Heyneman
I absolutely loved that perspective as it tapped into my way of approaching problems and solving them.
When I have a problem, especially if it involves others, I try to redress it, resolve it within myself, as I’m the one with the problem ergo I probably have the solution too, or at least a part of it… and I can activate and act on my part in it if I can figure it out and sort out a plan of action (including a plan of non-action). And sometimes that inner solution opens up a door into something new and inspiring.
“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall!” ― Aleister Crowley
This reminded me of something else which I read recently. A post which was, from my perspective, a trial by social media jury which reached a verdict on its own, the whole post was the verdict, the judge had already bashed his gavel to pronounce his sentence, without the jury needing to convene and give their own two-bits. It asked for those listening to participate… yet the participation required of the jury was for them (us) to be an audience for the prosecutor’s speech and the judge’s sentence. We were to be a sheepish kind of jury prone to gobbling up the already accused wolf on cue – This is the villain, have at him/her, throw all your rotten fruit and veg at the person in the stocks, they are no longer a human being like us, they are a not-us, so go for it, karma is on your side and won’t use your behaviour against you to accrue bad karma points, negative consequences, for you.
The accused was not present except as a foil for the accuser to make the point which they were making, which was that they were right and the accused was in the wrong.
A witness was also not present but their testimony was used anyway without their permission to solidify the prosecutor’s view and judge’s verdict. When the witness objected… they were bullied into submission, albeit politely.
The whole thing made me… uncomfortable, and desirous to play Devil’s Advocate on behalf of the accused. I was sorely tempted to weigh-in on a debate which wasn’t a debate at all but a victory disguised as an open hearing which wasn’t open at all.
Ice, water, steam… which tactic, facet of self, solution or resolution to choose in this instance?
I decided not to intervene, but to keep silent.
“People don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown.” ― Chuck Palahniuk.
To stay my vocal hand into silence was both a tough and easy decision to make.
Easy because silence is my default mode when other people try to involve me in something which is really none of my business, and if I make it my business I’ll be adding stress to my own personal stress which I don’t really need and could avoid doing. Especially when I disagree with the other person’s position and know that they are only seeking the support of agreement to justify their stance. And besides, why talk when no one is listening to anyone other than themselves.
Tough because I like problem solving and when I can see the root of a problem and a possible solution and/or resolution… it is very tempting to jump into the fray. But in this instance you have to look before you jump no matter how reckless (and possibly socially suicidal) you are.
In this case I could see that the whole situation was caused by a misperception. A missed understanding. A temporary lack of empathy – as in seeing and hearing things from the perspective of the other.
One person had said something, but the person listening had heard something else, had focused on a tiny detail which was not really relevant in the conversation but which then became more relevant than anything else, the molehill that turned into a mountain. The person speaking had done so seeking support and understanding through sharing because they were under the impression that the person listening was intuitive, sensitive and understanding, but the person listening had had a moment of lacking those things, had been insensitive towards the speaker and had been hypersensitive about themselves instead, about a word spoken, and had gone on the defensive when they were not being attacked.
A small misperception had become a black spot on the Sun which obscured all light and had burned many fingers and singed hearts, feelings, and enflamed emotions.
If the person listening had only heard what the speaker had actually been saying, perhaps they would be friends now instead of enemies… perhaps, maybe not…
“If the real world were a book, it would never find a publisher. Overlong, detailed to the point of distraction-and ultimately, without a major resolution.” ― Jasper Fforde
Each interaction we have is influenced by every other significant interaction which we have had in our lives, and sometimes, no matter what resolutions we make, the revolutions of the cycles and patterns of our lives keep repeating seeking a very different kind of resolution.
A new person becomes obscured by the ghosts of others… by past hurts rattling their chains… by that which is hidden erupting in the moment like a poltergeist… by shadows, sounds, scents, sensations which frighten us even though nothing is there and we react to our fears and things spiral from there.
This is a common occurrence amongst humans when we try to communicate with each other. I’ve been on both sides of the equation, both polarities. The not-listening, the not-listened-to. The accuser, the accused. We all have… and sometimes we only see what happened in hindsight, but by then it is too late to resolve and redress matters. The resolution lies in learning from our mistakes, misunderstandings and everything else which goes with those kinds of situations.
To let our pride go, perhaps get dented… ouch, ouch!
We sometimes get stuck in our position, entrenched, afraid to give way… as that might mean losing something of which we are not prepared to let go, even if letting go might release us.
“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” ― Khalil Gibran
Which reminds me of something else which I read recently…
“Consider what makes you different/beautiful, and then remember that everyone is “flawed” or different. Everyone, no matter how they appear on the outside. Everyone feels like an outcast at some point, so we’re all alone, together. But some people don’t like to recognize this.
Does this make you feel less special? Did you think your pain was unique? It’s not. We’re talking about Aquarius, not Leo. Your pain is valid, but someone out there has gone through what you’re going through. Some have gone through worse. Some survived, some thrived, some did not. Your pain, your low self-esteem, your feelings of rejection, are no more or less valid than what others are going through. But it’s this realization (that you’re not alone) that can help you climb out of the pit.” – We’re All Outcasts: Transiting Venus in Aquarius
We are all in this together, but we can only deal with the part of togetherness in which we sometimes feel very alone. There is power in being alone, one which can be powerful for others too. What we do within ourselves affects others.
If we are hard on ourselves, we will be hard on others too. If we are critical towards ourselves, we will be critical towards others. If we are afraid, our fear may affect others through our defensiveness. If we are unkind with ourselves, we will find it challenging to be kind towards others… and if we are kind to them while being unkind to ourselves we may be angry towards them if they don’t appreciate the gift which we are giving them as it is one we are not giving to ourselves, and we’ll envy them the gift we’ve given.
Yet if we love ourselves, as is, accepting and compassionate towards every part of our being… as best as we can… then…others will benefit from the gifts we give to ourselves.
To be so alone and yet so connected…
The title of this post comes from the photos of the cut flowers here included. I was perusing my archive and someone walked in while I was on this shot. They expressed a like for the image but preferred it without the door in the shot. I agreed… however… their remark suddenly brought the door into focus for me as being symbolic.
I hadn’t paid attention to it, was barely aware of it, was focused on other aspects of the shot, until they pointed it out to me. Then the door became more important than it had been before.
We sometimes show people the door when we want them out of our lives for whatever reason… perhaps because they are disrupting us and we don’t want that kind of disruption. But sometimes that kind of disruption can, if looked at from a certain angle, show us a door into something else, perhaps into a room which we didn’t know was there, an option, a solution, even a resolution which is waiting for us to cross the threshold.
Who knows what lies beyond… do we dare cross it or do we prefer to stay within the confines of a room we know well?
“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ― Thomas Merton