Here’s to new beginnings

Published 7:17 am Wednesday, January 6, 2021

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Well, 2020 slithered out and 2021 waltzed right in.  Here’s to new beginnings.

We need a theme for this new year, and maybe we should consider the theme of starting over. Starting over doesn’t necessarily imply throwing anything out, it might just be that we start over with what is right in front of us. 

Maybe we add to what we have; maybe we move toward minimalization; maybe we just throw out, clear away, and clean up.  But however, we do it, how about we draw a circle around ourselves and decide to make things better inside that circle.  If we don’t make ourselves better, how can we hope to help make others better?

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but that theme is all over television.  Whether it is someone renovating and reviving an old home, or whether it is someone taking an old car and making it shiny and new again, the twin themes of revival and resuscitation seem embedded in our national psyche. And why not? America loves a come-back story.  Why can’t that come back be us?

We should start with looking at where we are and where we are headed. I read a story about a 1979 flight between New Zealand and Antarctica.  No one told the pilots that someone had altered the airplane’s trajectory by a small amount—a mere two degrees—a seemingly insignificant number.

Except it wasn’t insignificant.  That two degrees moved the plane 28 miles out of the way.  Tragically, that two-degree shift was just enough to move them from a safe air space into the dirty air of an active volcano.  Lacking visibility, they crashed. 

So let’s take a hard look at where we are headed. Let’s be certain that we are not off that two degrees—the difference between a beautiful sightseeing tour and a volcano.

Maybe we should become a little more intentional in living our lives.  We do that by not just hoping to take a walk, but in planning it and then taking it.  We don’t just think about reading more, we buy the book and open the pages—with a pen and yellow highlighter in hand so we can mark that book up and make it our own.  We don’t just tug on the idea that we should drop a few pounds, we eat not just for comfort, but for nourishment and health.  We don’t worry and fret about our finances, we sit down and plan on how to fix whatever is ailing our fiscal health.

But when we plan, we shouldn’t overthink—that’s the paralysis of analysis.  Overthinking can inject so much fear and anxiety that it robs us of the ability to act.

January is not the time to start something fresh just because it is the traditional season for resolutions. That doesn’t work.  But there is no reason that we can’t choose no as an excellent time to make a fresh start, and then to make a good plan to carry that fresh start all the way through to completion.

But while we are making plans, let’s acknowledge that life has a way of changing. Woody Allen reminded us that if we want to make God laugh, we should tell him our plans.  Be flexible. Be kind to yourself. 

Why not chose to treat you like you were someone you care about—comingle goals with patience, intention with forgiveness, urgency with compassion.

And while we are on the subject of laughing, why don’t we all commit to laughing a little each day.  Laugh at the antics of a small child, laugh for the joyous beauty of a sunset, or laugh just a little at your own foolish self.  But laugh.

And maybe, just maybe, this time next year we will look back with a quiet sense of accomplishment.  Maybe we will see that things really are better inside that circle.

And if they are better inside that circle, I bet you will have made things better for those around you.

Not a bad plan for 2021, don’t you think?