As New Year’s Day 2007 slips into history along with Christmas past, a lot of us are left holding the crumbling remains of our already broken resolutions. Tradition dictates that we begin each year with new resolve. According to the experts, the top ten New Year’s resolutions, in order of popularity, are: (1) lose weight, (2) quit smoking, (3) stick to a budget or clear debt, (4) save more money, (5) find a better job, (6) become better organized, (7) engage in more exercise, (8) be more patient or tolerant with others, (9) eat more healthily, and (10) be a better person – whatever that’s supposed to mean. You are welcome to use this as a perennial checklist. It might help you remember what you’ve entirely forgotten you were going to accomplish as you sip another celebratory glass of champagne next December 31st. But why go through this yearly ritual, only to then beat ourselves up for failing?
Quite frankly, I gave up New Year’s resolutions years ago. The whole concept of self-improvement that they represent sticks uncomfortably in my craw. Yes, many great souls have lived lives of inspiring service couched in self-denial, the wearing of hair shirts, and other forms of self-deprecation. But I’ve chosen another path. Looking back, I can clearly see the fork where I veered away from the well-worn route of parents and peers. Alone, I ventured across unmarked terrain, often wielding a machete to cut my way through unexpected tangles.
Occasionally I have stumbled and fallen – to me, those are the “so what” parts of the journey. I am still in awe of the fact that we humans can actually balance ourselves on two legs as we make our way through life. An occasional tumble here and there seems a small price to pay in exchange for our ability to get up off of all fours and take in the view from five or six feet above ground level.
Each one of us has been gifted with creativity and curiosity. Yet most of humankind can be found huddled like sheep in the centermost portion of the bell curve, living their lives according to the well-defined rules of one societal group or another. By this way of thinking, survival is directly proportionate to one’s ability to conform – the more invisible and the less demanding we are, the better. The Australians call this “the tall poppy syndrome” – the more an individual stands above the other flowers in the field, the more likely he is to be cut down.
The real fun is at the extremities of the bell curve. That is where you find people who are driven by a sense of adventure or distaste for conformity. Although a few of these folks become celebrities, basking in their fifteen minutes of fame, most of them remain as anonymous as those living deep within the herd. It is not notoriety they seek but the living of an extraordinary life – whatever form that might take.
As the new year crawls, then walks, into its own destiny, I invite you to become the consummate risk-taker and break free from all forms of mediocrity. Follow the pathway that is true to you, even if it veers sharply away from the herd and your old patterning. It is here, beyond the boundaries of consensual reality, that you can truly become born again – not into the folds of fundamentalist belief but into the richness of the infinite instant. You jump into the water to discover you can swim just fine. You become the dolphin leaping joyfully through the bow wake of your own three-masted schooner.
Mind you, those who dare are not any more worthy than those who do not. However, when an individual’s native curiosity becomes immobilized by fear, that person has made a poor barter of his or her birthright. A life lived in fear eventually turns to mediocrity. And as Blaise Pascal pointed out: “Nothing is as approved as mediocrity; the majority has established it and fixes it fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way.”
Let’s resolve to be extraordinary, the most remarkable version of ourselves we dare imagine. Let’s break free from the past and color way outside the lines, choosing hues more vivid than we’ve ever before allowed ourselves to use. Mark Twain put it this way: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
For those of us who dare, 2007 has the potential to blast us through all previous limitations. It’s the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese Zodiac. Let’s declare 2007 instead the Year of the Chrysalis, in which we pledge ourselves to ourselves with total (dare I say, reckless) abandon:
“I hereby renounce and release myself from all previous resolutions. From this moment forward, I declare myself free from all limitations, real or imagined. I pledge to be the best me I possibly can. I ask only that I do no harm to others while exploring the myriad nuances of my own belly button.”
This is my ultimate resolution and you’re welcome to join me. I can promise neither success nor glory; I can only assure you that if you dare leave the safety of the herd, you will embark on a great adventure worthy of who you really are. Let this be the year we take Mr. Twain’s advice, cut the ties to our old selves, and chart a course into the setting sun.
Jean-Claude Gerard Koven is a writer and speaker based in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. He was a featured weekly columnist for the UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum and is the author of Going Deeper: How to Make Sense of Your Life When Your Life Makes No Sense, recipient of both the Allbooks Reviews Editor’s Choice Award and the USABookNews.com Award for the Best Metaphysical Book of the Year.
©2004 – 2021. Jean-Claude Gerard Koven / All Rights Reserved.