Wednesday, December 31, 2008

As another Year Goes by

It is exhilarating to see the 365-day long loop being completed – while another prepares to commence. What is exciting about the coming of a new year despite the fact that nothing really changes – June remains the sixth month of a year, there still exist seven days in a week and the Creator of time nonetheless refuses to extend the 24-hour day by a minute? I believe the closing and advent of a year avail us new opportunities, fresh starts, anniversaries, chances to consolidate on the gains of the previous year, etc.

This annual closure and commencement can be likened to a moving train. At its point of departure, a train is boarded with passengers. At every train-stop, it drops off some of its passengers while picking new ones, most importantly it refuels. This it does till the full cycle is completed – back to its first point of departure to pick passengers afresh. Drawing from this analogy, as we end and commence a new year we usually (resolve to) keep good habits, healthy relationships and attainable goals while dropping the not too beneficial and viable ones. In the same vein, the transition between the old and new allows us to “refuel” for the journey ahead. We tend to ruminate on how to forge ahead in the coming year, strategising on making the best of opportunities while mentally, physically and spiritually preparing ourselves for new challenges.

In this outgoing year, I have had my fair share of lost/wasted opportunities, disappointments, failed/uncompleted projects, deaths of loved ones, working with difficult people, betrayals, etc. Similarly, I have witnessed the good times – I have grown successes with my hands, added value to myself, increased my mental and psychological capacity, established worthy relationships, tried to empower the less privileged, and many more.

As I write this, I discover I have always been caught in a web of delusion even as this year ends and likewise in years past. I have relentlessly dreamt of and yearned for “the better life” which always seems elusive. Within the quoins of my mind, I see and aspire for that illusionary “better life” – where the pastures are greener, the rivers flow still and the heavens drop fats. I have always been of the opinion that the next month, next year and probably the next decade will convey “the better life” come my way. The closer I get to walking into this life, the more subtle, vague and indefinable this mirage becomes. It keeps evolving (or am I changing my mind about what I desire?) and frustratingly eluding.

With the chimera of “the better life” in focus, I discovered I have denied ‘self of many chances of enjoying life’s precious moments believing better prospects lie ahead. I have failed to communicate with loved ones opining there will be opportunities to do same in the future (only to find out later they are no more). Many a time, in the bid of attaining “the better life” with its attendant hustle and bustle, I have lost touch with the essence and stillness of the person within – the real me. Alas, there is no better life than now – no greater moment than the present, no better opportunity than the instant. In fact, El Dorado or Utopia can only be witnessed when an individual makes an inward journey, halting at “life-stops” dropping off “expired passengers” while picking up beneficial ones. It is also expedient that one “refuels” in the course of this life’s journey. These life’s timeouts culminate to be the very life we desire – that “better life”. The greatest wealth and riches lie within. The zenith of heights is the depth of a soul that is ebullient of life.

As another year goes by, I have decided to live by the moments – taking time out to enjoy/endure each opportunity/disappointment that comes my way. This is not a call to reckless living, disregarding the “rainy days”. Howbeit, in the process of doing so life must be lived by the moments. The tomorrow we dreamt of yesterday is today. The future is now! Carpe diem – live the present! Life is short. In fact, it’s a dash as expressed in Linda Ellis’ The Dash:

I read of a reverend who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning…to the end

He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth

For it matters not, how much we own
The cars…the house…the cash
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash

So think about this long and hard
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
(You could be at “dash-mid-range”)

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while

So when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Stop postponing your living. Live the life – make that phone call, admit that fault, face that challenge, go on that vacation, write that email, picnic with friends and associates, enrol for that course, make that donation, write that exam – now!

The best of your years is ahead of you - and it begins now!