The beginning of a new year is perhaps the best time to logically review and reflect upon everything that makes not only a life, but a life worth living.
Earth: It has always been restlessly reconstructing itself, swamp becoming desert, ocean overcoming islands, volcanoes venting pressure, ice grinding the landscape before melting and disappearing. Although we have no control over such actions, we are obliged to keep our Earth home clean and orderly while wisely using the bounties it provides and respecting those we must protect.
War: None are won without terrible sacrifices, yet and from the beginning, they have persisted. Although WWI and WWII were pivotal in our survival as a nation, none caused more deaths, anguish, and broken families than our own Civil War. Under no circumstances must we ever again be so divided, distrustful, and destructive of all those things we hold dear. Our future must never be veiled in doubt.
Religion: We endlessly discuss, argue, and fight over which of the myriad of faiths and beliefs is the “right” one. Also swirling around us are matching and opposing opinions of what is going to happen to us after our mortal existence. The challenge isn’t to question the right of any religion to exist, but rather to understand the need to accommodate all of them toward whatever lies beyond.
Friends: This isn’t about the make-believe internet kind, but the real and true ones, those willing to listen to you, cry and laugh with you, care for you in time of need, miss you when you are gone, welcome you when you return. They should be sought out and the relationship nourished as long and intensely as possible. Anyone who has more than five genuine friends is, indeed, fortunate.
Change: It will always be with us — pushing, pulling, insisting, and reshaping, often jumping in front of us with a sudden and beguiling embrace. It must, however, never be taken for granted or judged at face value. Every change brings disruption, consequences, new ways to think and do. Just as it can lead us down paths we shouldn’t travel, so can it also take us to new and deliriously wonderful heights.
Children: They are our future. They must be loved and cherished, treated as a fistful of clay to be formed into a person even better than you. With passion and understanding, they are to be taught and treated well, praised when they do right, disciplined when they do wrong, encouraged to make truth, honesty, dependability, love, and obedience part of the solid foundation on which will rest their future happiness.
Time: No one in the history of the world has had more or less of it than what we have now. Once gone, it can never be reclaimed. There’s no such thing as wasted time because it’s used for different purposes. Time exists in only two forms — the past which can never be changed, and the future which is yours to manage. In that regard, you will be remembered not by your intentions, but by what you actually caused to happen.
Things: Whether useful or fanciful, all those objects around us are reminders of who we are, what’s happened to us, and what we’ve accomplished over the years. They meet then join the ever-increasing number of events that occur between the bookends of birth and death. Together, they reflect the choices we’ve made, the places we’ve been, the joys we’ve experienced, and the lessons we’ve learned.
Body: There’s never been nor will there ever be anyone exactly like you. Relish every opportunity you have to take full advantage of that priceless uniqueness. Caring for your body and listening to what it tells you is a critically important responsibility. Best you do everything possible to keep it healthy, lean, and strong. At the same time, keep challenging the brain while remembering that without good health, nothing else matters.
Finally, there’s life itself, your most precious gift. You had no choice over when you arrived, nor will you when you leave. You are, however, in charge of what lies between those two extremes. Treat life as the big adventure it truly is. Keep squeezing from it all you can.
As the famous author Jack London said, “I would much rather be ashes than dust.”
Happy New Year!