I've made some progress figuring out what Christmas means for me, but New Year's is always a struggle. I think about my life all of the time, not just the first day of the calendar year, I am often re-evaluating life and trying to figure out how to be a better human.
For me, there has always been a forced joviality about New Years Day. I have never been a heavy drinker, and even if I were, drinking is not in fashion these days. We are supposed to be happy without artificial stimulants, even though our world becomes more complex and stressful.
I am not drawn to celebrate a day, or even a year, I just don't measure my life in days and months, rather in feelings and fulfillment.
I call this listening to the Other Voice. I think that is what I listen to on New Year's Day, not a bowl parade or a plummeting clock.
One day is just as precious to me as another. I believe that the path to peace and a spiritual life is internal, you have to go inside, not outside.
I believe we came into the world to be better. I am always searching for ways to be better, and even though I know it is not possible to ever be perfect, I believe that I can and have changed my nature for the good.
I also know I have a long ways to go. The good thing about searching for the Other Voice if you are as imperfect as I am is that there is so much room for growth, I know I can accomplish something.
I know I have to remove shame and guilt and regret from my conscious life in order to move forward. The mystics called this the Bread of Shame. Only we humans have a conscience, and part of being human is to ignore it. It scolds us, but does not control us.
I believe that to achieve true and lasting fulfillment, I have to set appropriate goals for myself: to be better is achievable, to be perfect is not, I believe. It has no limits, requires no miracles, yet it is also difficult to achieve in a continuous way.
To set out for sainthood is to set out to fail. Our better angels come and go.
I believe in leading a proactive rather than reactive life, and that means I don't need to wait until January 1 to make positive resolutions for myself, I can do it every day. New Year's Day reminds me of the Jewish holiday of atonement and the Catholic practice of confession. The one day, the one prayer that makes it all okay.
There is no absolution for my sins, I do not get to wipe the slate clean once a year, or whenever I feel like going to Church. My victories and failures, like my virtues and values, live inside of me every day, and I cannot ever shed them or become cleansed and pure.
The real me is flawed and broken and hopeful and fulfilled, and the curious mix that is me cannot ever be erased or left behind. I can do better, I've done it many times.
Human nature seems naturally balanced towards the negative, towards worry, grievance, envy and anger.
Listening to the Other Voice is proactive act.
I see that one thing we all desire is uninterrupted happiness.
We want to be happy, and since there is no such thing as a life of uninterrupted happiness, I seek a life with some happiness and some love and some self-awareness and some fulfillment. They are all inside of me, although they are sometimes shy and feckless.
I can't have everything I want all of the time, but I can have much of what I want a lot of the time. That discovery has opened up my life, even though it came to me late. I think the vision of the Creator was to give us hope and optimism and fulfillment, but only to those who believe in it and will work hard for it every day.
On New Year's Day, I seek out the Light, my faith, the force that many of us call intuition. I believe there is a magic that draws the right people and the right choices and the right opportunities into my life if I am open to them and have faith in them.
I pray for the Other Voice to guide me and inspire me and keep me awake.
The Other Voice, a/k/a the Inner Spirit activates and arouses hope and optimism when we accept and permit it. I seek this every single morning when I wake up, and at the end of the day, looking back to see what I have done or failed to do.
I fail as often as I succeed, but I try every day, and so there is a lot of hope and optimism in my life. The odds are good.
It is the Light that drives me to seek more and more out of life, every single day. In this way, being young is a gateway to so many years of happiness and hope, and growing older becomes a rich and fulfilling miracle, not a time of fear and withdrawal.
My New Year is about seeking out the Light and the Other Voice. If there is a dark side to human nature, there is a bright side as well, and I want to dwell in that space in 2018 and well beyond, as often as I can.