Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve Ruminations

A friend sent me this incredible link to an on-line video which I highly recommend. You can find it here. It is an inspirational, humbling, and provocative evocation of what it means to be a citizen of the Earth at this point in human history. A fitting moment of reflection at the turn of the year.

Concurrently, I also recommend visiting this site for a microscopic view, equally humbling in its representation of the complexity and beauty of the world in miniature.

Both of these experiences provide ways to get out of one's own way and see one's place in the world for what it is---an infinitesimal part of the wider web of life. In our peripatetic lives---wandering from person to person, place to place, experience to experience---our own lives become so big in our eyes, and we so easily lose sight of the bigger picture. When we curse our broken toaster and lament the money we will spend on a new one, we miss an opportunity to think of those who have never known such luxury and convenience, and perhaps haven't even been blessed with a piece of wholesome bread to eat for months. Sure, a broken toaster is a drag, but if you can just go ahead and buy a new one without so much as a second thought, you have precious little to grumble about. I say this to myself more than anyone else.

It is so easy to lose perspective. Sogyal Rinpoche writes about "cherishing" one's self to such an extent that one wears blinders towards the plight of others. I remind myself more than anyone that gratitude is the key---giving thanks for what I have, not focusing on loss and what-if scenarios. On her desk, one of my colleagues has a quote posted next to her computer monitor: "If the only prayer you said in your life was thank you, that would suffice" (Meister Eckhart).

So, in keeping with the tradition, here's to letting go of the old, ringing in the new, and accepting the past as done. Any new year, be it secular or religious, offers a fresh start. The fact is, every sunrise offers a fresh beginning. Taking that thought even further, every breath offers an opportunity to start again. Imagine that, a "new year" every moment. "With this breath, another year begins. With this breath, another year begins....." (Let's just agree that a glass of champagne does not need to accompany each breath. since precious little would ever be accomplished!)

Tonight, Mary and I will make New Year collages to visualize our goals and aspirations for 2007. We will listen to our favorite New Year's Eve song, "Sacrificial Bonfire" by XTC, and probably be sound asleep at midnight.

For all you revellers, dreamers, seekers, and beings great and small: Happy New Year and many happy returns.

Sacrificial Bonfire

Lyric by: Colin Moulding


Fire they cried
So evil must die
And yields are good
So men pull back hoods and smile
The scapegoat blood spilled
Spittled and grilled it crackled and spat
And children grew fat on the meat
Change must be earnt
Sacrificial bonfire must burn
Burn up the old
Ring in the new
Assembled on high
Silhouette against the sky
The smoke prayed and pranced
And sparks did their dance in the wind
Shadows wore thin with less and less skin
And the clothes that were draped
Was all that told man from ape
Change must be earnt
Sacrificial bonfire must reign
Reign over good
Banish the bad

© 1986

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