Happy New Year!
As we transit into the new year, we reflected on what the new year means to us. May our explorations help you consider how you approach yours.
- Food for Thought // Approaching the new year
- Article // Happy New Era // by Daryl
- Article // Self-Remembrance // by Rosslyn
- Updates // Upcoming Events
Thank you for beginning 2021 with us.
Rosslyn & Daryl
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Approaching the new year
How has the new year started for you? What dreams or hopes might you hold?
As you will see from Daryl’s and Rosslyn’s pieces, both carry rather different energies into the new year and explored it from their individual angles. Daryl discusses the issues around setting resolutions and encourages setting them at any time, not just the new year. Rosslyn reminisces about a NYE experience, going inwards to explore her dreams ahead, and begins her year with a prayer.
- How will you approach the new year? What thoughts and emotions do you carry as you step into 2021?
- What rituals do you associate or practice with the new year?
E.g. setting resolutions, picking a keyword to define your year, drafting plans, lighting a candle, popping a champagne.
- What do the rituals mean to you? What might you learn about yourself from them?
ARTICLE // by Daryl
Happy New Era
There is a running joke among gym regulars that, come January, we’ll have to brace ourselves for the deluge of new year’s resolutioners. You know, the throngs of people who make a resolution to be fitter in the new year. We also know, however, the crowds will generally thin out by March and we’ll get the gym back to ourselves. Not having to wait (as long) to use the equipment is great. Not having to wait to use the equipment because someone is busy chatting/Instagramming/surfing on their phone while occupying the spot is even better.
But this issue’s article is not meant to be a rant. What I really want to discuss is the question of a resolution. The way I see it, there are two main issues with how resolutions are made, and I believe the transient gym new year’s resolutioners exemplify these two issues perfectly. To be fair, these couple of issues can apply to anyone about anything but I derived my observations from the gym sample population.
I. Making resolutions based on processes instead of outcomes.
When you make a resolution based merely on an outcome, you run the risk of losing motivation before you even attain your goal. That’s because you have not transformed your resolution into a way of life. On the day you quit, you’re as alienated from your resolution as the day you began. I’ll use myself as an example. I’m as lazy a person as it gets when it comes to fitness. In addition, I developed an aversion to exercise from my days serving in the armed forces because I perceive it as a yoke of oppression by the state. So what enabled me to keep to my fitness goals? I certainly didn’t say, “I’m gonna get fit!” If I did, I wouldn’t have lasted. Instead, I placed a premium on what exercise gave me on a daily basis, and the first thing it gave me was quiet time where my mind could focus. Those 1.5 hour sessions were my personal time when nobody could disturb me. No distractions. Just the weights before me. Before long, it became a routine, and I looked forward to all my gym sessions. I’ve spoken to some people at the gym and I realized coming to the gym was not a routine but a chore for them. They dread making the trip down but that’s because the goal of becoming fit is so distant they can’t identify with it or own it. Becoming fit remains merely some distant goal, rather than their goal.
You can’t be fixated on the end goal. Trust the daily improvements and before you know it, you’ll be within touching distance of your end goal. For me, it’s all about whether I can lift heavier than yesterday. If I did, awesome. If I didn’t, then maybe today isn’t the day but tomorrow might be! I remember my first barbell squats. All I could achieve was maybe 35kg (77lbs) at most. But as I focused on overcoming myself, I found myself squatting heavier and heavier. Suddenly, one day I was squatting a 100kg (220lbs). That was certainly unexpected. By making the daily routine a new way of life, I’m going to become stronger and fitter whether I like it or not. It’s only a matter of time. Being fixated on the end goal makes you impatient for results, and when you don’t see the result you’re fixated on, all your daily achievements elude your consciousness and you feel really lousy about yourself because, as far as you’re concerned, you’ve achieved nothing.
II. Resolutions can be made anytime.
When one rushes to make a resolution for the sake of making one, believing it’ll set the tone for the coming year, the reality is that, for most of us, nothing is going to come to fruition. Without forethought, the resolution one makes can’t possibly contain any resolve; any professed resolve to change is mere lip service. What’s needed, then? Don’t rush into making a resolution for the sake of meeting the new year deadline. Consider what change you want to effect and, more crucially, why you want to effect that change. Only after do you own the reasons for wanting to change do you determine how to actualize it. And it shouldn’t have to matter if the moment doesn’t coincide with the new calendar year. After all, when you’re committed to change for the better, you’ve already heralded a new era for yourself. Isn’t that grander than just a plain ol’ new year?
Till next time, may you find the satisfaction of birthing a new era in yourself every day.
ARTICLE // by Rosslyn
I’m penning this as I sit in my bedroom, sipping my morning coffee made lovingly by Daryl, occasionally gazing out of the window at the leaden sky. Such mornings tend to weigh me down, but perhaps, it’s merely reflecting the heaviness that’s already in me. The clouds are pregnant with the hope of new showers to cleanse me of my troubles. Ahh…what a romantic image. I’ve not seen that before, but it helps me appreciate this morning’s weather in a new way.
It’s New Year’s Eve. I’ve made it through this year, alive, safe; my close family and friends, alive, safe. Our world lost many precious souls through the pandemic, I’ve not lost any whom I know. How blessed I am. This realization weighs on my heart even more.
The universe sent me a telegram earlier, dated Dec 31, 2017, written in Kyoto, Japan. It was the best NYE of my life thus far, being able to spend it with my favorite person in my favorite city. We braved the crowds at the temple to experience a few of the Japanese rituals for the new year. Running holy water over our hands then taking a sip of it, savoring sweet rice wine that’s been blessed by the gods from a small shallow saucer; getting a rope, lighting it on one end, then swirling it to keep the spark alive as it burns through its entirety (to ward off evil spirits;) praying on new year’s morning; drinking fermented rice wine.
But of course, the telegram wasn’t simply to remind me how much fun that was. These events speak of the Japanese way of receiving the new year—going to the shrine to thank the gods for the year, appreciating the sweet harvest of the year, and praying for blessings for the next.
Through my struggles, I’ve almost forgotten, again, to give thanks for my year. Despite my depression episodes, I enjoyed the abundance of time and peace. Shackled in the mind, but not shackled by the physical duties of running and raising a household, I was in a privileged position to pursue my dreams and desires. I have been blessed, each time, to emerge from yet another depression, unscathed, only to learn more about it and write.
Out of 366 days, almost two-thirds of it, I woke up in despair, just like today. So often, I’ve been blind-sided that I forgot the other one-third when I woke up excited about life. So often, I let my inner critic get away with abuse. Stories of envy, inadequacy, inferiority, like thorny vines creeping up my chest suffocating my heart, choking me. So often, I expend almost all my energy fighting it to get back to my baseline that I forget the days when life tasted exceptionally sweet. I have had so many succulent days in 2020.
I can’t yet see all the silver linings, I’m inquiring and learning, beginning by remembering.
Remember the moments,
of ease, of wonder,
of peace, of spaciousness,
of joy, of clarity.
Remember my heart,
now drawing little breath,
prickly creepers constricting it.
and return to its pulse,
return to me.
that which I desire…
To dream freely. I want to dream and share my dreams openly, without fear of them being trampled. I want to give my dreams a chance to take shape before they die of asphyxiation. I want them to live till they reach their natural ends.
How human of me to desire, and experience anxiety amidst it.
How blessed of me to live as human.
that which I boldly dream of…
An integrated life, where vocation meets livelihood, where my gifts pay the bills. For my calling to be a lifetime, not just a past-time.
Another book, to write another book, and another, and another, then publishing each of the books I wrote. For my words to reach a large audience. To connect with others and have others connect with themselves through my words. To write and be guilt-free as I travel down this path.
I want…I want…I want…
through writing I want.
To write freely, share freely, give freely,
without qualms about how I’ll be received.
To bear witness to the world, and write.
Oh, Beloved, I pray thee…
please continue to bless me.
Bless me with rain to nourish me,
light to see, gales to spread my seeds,
lightning to pierce through the fog,
thunder to challenge my resolve,
and lastly, beautiful blossoms to remind me,
“There is a place for you, just like there is
for all living beings.”
Meanwhile, I will continue
to meet myself in you as I meet you
through my writing.
In you I rest, may I bloom with wonder.
Rosslyn is holding weekly writing sessions starting January 13, 2021. Do join if you’re keen or share it with your friends.
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