If 2010 was the year of the bull, then allow me to dub 2011 the year of the cup. Back pedal. 2010 wasn’t technically the year of the bull in the Chinese-calendar-sense (year of the Tiger would be accurate). In my world, however, 2010 was a year when I took the bull by the horns. I set some high resolutions and met (most) of them. I organized my linen closets (a scary task). I organized my basement (a terrifying task). I stored away my teaching supplies (an unthinkable task). In a word, I stopped avoiding.
I tackled the things that I’d pushed so far back on the proverbial back burner that they had actually fallen off the stove.
At the end of 2010, I felt pretty good about my progress for the year.
Then I turned the calendar page.
I’m out of steam.
Over the past few years, I’ve strongly adopted Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy of living life to the fullest. Leaving no adventure unventured. Seizing one bull’s horns after another’s. ”I wanted to live deep,” Thoreau wrote during a two year experiment of living close to nature, “and suck out all the marrow of life.” Here are some questions I’d rather not answer: How often do I skim the surface in life, missing what lies deep beneath the surface? How often do I miss the essentials for the ephemeral?
I find life to be so beautiful in big ways (the birth of a new baby, Banff National Park, Limoges china) and small ways (ladybug wings, a stranger’s smile, the smell of pot roast in the slow cooker). I shudder to think I could go unthinkingly through my days and miss something. As Thoreau explains, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
(Sorry Thoreau. It’s not in my 2011 plans to live in the woods.)
It is in my 2011 plans to live deliberately.
Problem is, I’m out of bulls to corral. I’ve been giving the New Year’s resolution thing some thought. Gone over my bucket list. Become increasingly intimidated by how many other people out there in blog-land have ambitious, noteworthy goals for the coming dozen months. Truthfully, I feel like I need a breather from my intense focus in 2010 to conquer the small corner of the world that I call my own.
Then again, maybe I’m just recovering from the stomach flu that vanquished me on New Year’s Eve.
Either way, I’m out of steam.
So for me, 2011 is the year of the cup.
I’m changing my strategy for living deliberately. From grabbing the bull by the horns and making great things happen by sheer force of my indomitable will, I’m switching to a more foreign, passive stance. Simply holding open palms to the heavens and waiting for life to fill my cup.
Someone wise back in my college days explained to me that if we clutch tightly to things that God wants to remove from our lives, then we’ll hurt as he pries open our stubborn fingers. Instead, if we hold blessings in open palms, we will simply witness, pain-free, what He gives and takes from our lives. I like this image. But it’s going to be hard to do. Most days, I’m a clutcher.
In 2011, I’m going to practice a posture of cupped open palms.
In a sense, I’ve still got a bucket list to dip from for my 2011 resolution. It’s just an empty bucket. And I’m holding it open to heaven, expecting great things (both big and small) to rain down. I’m going to live deliberately and not miss a single drop that plops in my hands. I resolve to anticipate, accept, and celebrate the year to come.
Let me borrow some words from Jonathan Swift to wish you all a very Happy New Year:
“May you live every day of your life.”
~ Jonathan Swift