I have never been a fan of New Year celebrations, I prefer the Christmas festival part of the holiday. I agree with the U2’s lyric, ‘nothing changes on New Year’s Day’. I do not think that this is as cynical as it may sound. The fact is that life has taught me that nothing in the universe changes just because the date on a human invented calendar does. Moving from 31st December 2015 to 1st January 2016 means something only to those of us who live by the Gregorian calendar and it is very relative.
It would come as no surprise, then, if I revealed that I do not make New Year Resolutions either. Again, this is not some Grinch attitude to the whole New Year thing. Someone, somewhere, at some time, pointed out to me that you can make a resolution at any point in your life. They are not just for New Year. In fact, it seems to me that the resolutions that I make on such days other than 1st January are the ones that I am most likely to keep.
So, does the New Year mean anything to me at all? The answer is yes. I see 2016 as a year of potential, just like I saw 2015. In fact I wake up each and every day and view the future in exactly the same way; potential.
I live in the moment. Being a Pantheist I have become acutely aware that all we have is this very immediate moment, the one right now that you are experiencing at this very moment. The past is just memory and the future is just anticipation, everything that we really have is right here, right now. I have lived like this for a long time now but I became aware of something called ‘Mindfulness’ making an impact in the latter part of 2015. I have not researched it in any depth but it seems to be, more or less, similar to my own attitude towards life: live in the moment.
This approach to life and the living of it has not led me to any great spiritual truths, revealed esoteric secrets, made me wealthy, or delivered anything else of a tangible nature that I am aware of. It has allowed me to deal with life and the problems that if frequently confronts me with, however. I am disabled. I have impaired mobility and chronic pain to deal with. I learnt while relatively young to develop coping strategies and one of these was to break challenges down into smaller components. When I say ‘challenges’ I am not talking about climbing Mount Everest, as much as I would dearly love to do that, I am referring instead to mundane, everyday activities, like catching a bus for instance. There are days when my legs just do not want to cooperate, they stiffen up and are slow to respond, or my muscles feel weak and ineffectual, but I still have this thing to do, getting on a bus to go somewhere. To achieve this major feat I reduce the problem down to stages; stage one being walking to the bus stop. Stage two is waiting for the bus without allowing my legs to become too stiff whilst standing still. Stage three is preparing to get on the bus once it appears. Stage four is actually getting on the bus. Stage five is getting safely to a seat, preferably before the bus starts moving. Then I do it all in reverse for getting off the bus.
Living in the moment allows me to concentrate on the most immediate problem that I am confronted with. The problem changes with the passing of time, what was once present becomes the past and what was once the future becomes a new present. The whole problem of getting from A to B using public transport is reduced from a seemingly major undertaking to a series of manageable events. I can cope with that.
This approach to the living of life works, I have found, with every problem or challenge that I have encountered. It has allowed me to do things and go places that I might not have otherwise considered. More than that it has allowed me to enjoy doing such things. I am lucky, I enjoy a very positive attitude that gives me confidence, but then I think that this has grown from living in the moment and discovering that I can indeed do things, many things, that otherwise might have seemed even more daunting than getting on a bus.
I do not disdain the New Year, or the celebrations that go with it, but for me each morning is like the dawn of a New Year. My perspective is not tied to the calendar but rather to what the next moment might bring me. This does not mean that I lack a long-term view of my life, that I fail to plan for the future or lack ambitions beyond the immediate moment; quite the reverse actually. It is living today that has allowed me to realise that I can indeed achieve things tomorrow; great things. It is worthwhile planning events like another holiday abroad, learning to cook a new dish, getting my third book published, passing my driving test, surprising my wife with something that I know she will enjoy, and, even, changing one or two of my own bad habits. What I do not do, however, is hang my hat on one particular date and commit myself to change or self-improvement just once a year. I do it every morning of everyday and that is, perhaps, why I think that I have achieved so much in life.