As a magazine editor, every year I faced down the challenge of how to repackage the irresistible “New Year, New You” beast, trying to take a somewhat facile notion and turn it into something meaningful, true, with depth.
Because none of us should want a “new you.” Our existing ‘you,’ is just fine, thanks.
My life’s work has been to come to terms with my existing me, make peace with it, accept it. My current meditation mantra is “I am now, and am always, fine”—a reminder that humans were created with frailty at our center, and that how we collectively manage that frailty is the defining statement about humanity.
I want the defining statement about humanity to be about compassion, love under all circumstances, acceptance of all we cannot know and cannot control. It’s challenging work, to strive for that, to be sure. But I comfort myself with the reminder that all we can expect of ourselves is that we will keep trying, that we will commit to the practice of being human; we cannot and should not expect we will ever hit perfect…. except in the Buddhist meaning of the word, that we are now and have always been perfect. We are here to be human—that is all that is required—and, on our best days, to try to transcend the burdens of consciousness and ego.
When I look at the past ten years of my life, I am still utterly flummoxed at the series of losses (though typing that makes me nervous; there is always so much more to lose, isn’t there?), but it just keeps becoming ever more clear that the more that is pulled from my grasp, the less I grasp.
And the less I grasp, the more I can just be—and what I mean by “be” is not about some quantum state of transcendence (again, our desire to achieve drives so much of how we gauge how we are doing), but more about accepting the moment of existence that I am living this second. I am here. I have no great goals for my life other than to fill myself and my son with love and wonder (and hope he spreads that in his own life, and that it gives him peace the way it does me).
Modern life is not built in a way that allows us to dwell in love and wonder; we have created so many demands and so many distractions, and then, of course, there is the forever lure of wanting to define ourselves on this worldly plane: magazine editor, writer, author, mother, good person worthy of love…
But I accept my humanity. I accept that there are days I want to play Cooking Fever for three hours in a row and perfect my ability to make video-game sushi really, really fast in exchange for gems and a new set of tables and chairs in my video-game restaurant.
I accept that there are days that I can do nothing better with my mental energy than tear myself down for a dozen minor infractions of being: eating too much, sleeping too late, whatevering too little.
I accept that we are all here just doing the damn best we can, most of us with full hearts and good intentions.
For me, the dawning of this year is not about resolutions, perhaps for the very first time ever. In the past when I’ve resolved to have no resolutions, that was in and of itself a goal, a goal of trying, trying, trying to do the impossible work of letting go (of detaching, in Buddhist parlance).
More and more I am able to live on two planes: the plane of my flawed human self, and the plane of my higher consciousness. I will never be able to live in the latter plane full time, but the fact that I have re-engineered my life in a way that gives me daily appreciation and contact with the awe of all I will not know—even though I fail to meditate regularly, even though I play video games on my phone too much, even though I gained six pounds over the holidays—feels like a sweet freedom that is richer than anything I could ever give myself through striving.
Let go. Let the river of life carry you.
Happy New Year, my dearest, dearest friends. Having you with me for this conversation, this incredible journey of being, is the greatest treasure of all.