Resolution Revolution: The Gift of Presence

By Courtney B. Miller - January 2015

What if you could do something radical and pervasive; but without the violent shock to your system followed by a seemingly inevitable sense of defeat often accompanied by failed attempts at lofty and perhaps material New Year’s resolutions? Each year, I make my resolution lists and I get a serious sense of pleasure about checking each item off said list/s.  I am driven in a tangled web of hot pursuit of each goal I set until I have “successfully” completed my mission.  What’s “wrong” with that?  Or perhaps, what’s “right” with that?  Right or wrong notwithstanding, New Year’s resolutions have a way of taking us out of the present moment, back to the past (what we did or didn’t do) and into the future (what we shall do this year).  Resolving to be unresolved, “be” in the present moment and open to what is happening right now - how might that feel differently?  A resolution revolution would stipulate no stipulations, rules or checkpoints.  Just breathe.  Just be.  Present.

A new year, another trip around the sun - it’s hard to go unnoticed and not be affected by what arises.  At least, that’s been my experience.  I have my ritual, homiletic hodgepodge adventure I fashioned and “perfected” over the years.  I prepare and look forward to it all year, a graduation of all my efforts, hard work and success. I invited friends into joining in this tradition and it has been quite a fun and cathartic experience.  The rate of retention has been off the charts.  Each year, we make a list on New Year’s Eve of all the things we don’t want to bring or continue into the New Year.  Santa’s list would surely be put to shame when juxtaposed next to these thoughtful, inner directed, lists.   Those of us who want to share, share. We also hold the space for those who want to be silent.  And, we burn that list before midnight and leave it behind with the previous year.  But then, there’s the other list. 

Studying the Enneagram has taught me a lot about myself.  I’ve learned things I like and I’ve learned things I don’t care for that I’d like to leave behind like all the lists I’ve burned on New Year’s Eve.  Sometimes my need for control takes me out of my essence.  For example, my ritual has amassed so many rules and procedures over the years, it’s become more like a superstitious baseball team on a winning streak (i.e. Bull Durham: Tim Robbins in a garter belt) than a peaceful gathering to celebrate and bid a year well lived adieu and welcome in the new.  If you haven’t seen the classic movie, Bull Durham, what are you waiting for?  And, I digress.  Or did I?  Giving unsolicited suggestions and convincing people of their [suggestions] merit, and of course, inherent well intended purpose (perhaps even to those who could care less about things like baseball) – I’d just assume burn that “bad” habit with my next list.  But then, what if I could just take a moment to be with it all?  The “good,” the “bad” – the “right and the “wrong”…

The second list was inspired by my earth mother, Native American roots.  On that list, we write about things we’d like to manifest and grow.  Then, on New Year’s Day, I encourage everyone to bury the list.  If they have a garden that is well tended to (here go the rules and the qualifying), that is “best.”  If not, a houseplant will “do.”  This way, we can be reminded all year of our intentions as they take root and grow.  I also have, in some sacred superiority complex paying homage to the sanctity of the original list, a belief about not making a copy of that list and especially not copying the “burn list.”  However, I’ve found contrary to my best intentions to keep things “sacred,” the to-do list is burned into my brain all year until everything is completed according to my insurmountable standards.  How did something so well intended and lovely in its initial inception go so awry and off course from what it “should” be?  Maybe it didn’t.  Some say complacency is the enemy of success.  For these purposes, I would argue that notion to be slightly, if not extremely, flawed. 

What’s “wrong” with being with what is and being okay with it?  And, what is “success” anyhow?  Overthinking, overdoing, overachieving: these are things with which I’m all too familiar.  On one hand, I’m burning lists and on the other I’m burying them – burning and burying things – I guess the joy I find there should come as no surprise as I am an “8” [type on the Enneagram].  The “problem” does not lie within the New Year’s ritual and its inherent peccadilloes (however silly and hocus pocus it may seem to some), the fun we have with it, or with Tim Robbins wearing a garter belt if it makes him happy and he believes it will help him win a baseball game.  Nor does it lie within the things we like or don’t like about ourselves.  The judgment surrounding it – “the rules” and “the rules about rules”, the “right” and “wrong”, “good” and bad” – that’s where the work really lies and the practice begins.  Staying present to “what is” and who “we are” in all our glory instead of “what was” or “what will be,” now that would truly be a resolution revolution.  The gift of presence is the best present we can give ourselves and each other.  A little kindness and love (especially towards yourself) goes a long way too.  Happy NEW Year!

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