I hope this year is different. I hope this year I am different. But that is my hope every year. And your hope too.
We all know that we aren’t who we should be. We don’t pray enough, or exercise enough, or attend to those whom we should well enough… We want to be better friends, spouses, children, employees, athletes, etc. We want to be all we can be. A “New Year” awakens that hope again.
The hope stirs us to plan and sometimes even to action. We resolve again. We join the “Y” or set our alarm earlier for a quiet time with God or start a new house project. And sometimes the changes “take”. Sometimes we really do become different, maybe even better, more of the man or woman we would want to be.
I am a Type A kind of guy who loves New Year’s Resolutions. I set goals and make plans. In fact, sometimes my goals and plans become the things I most hope in. Yes, I ask God to bless them, but somewhere in there I believe that I can, if I try hard enough, really get better.
But here is the problem. I am 62. I have been working really hard for a long time to get better. Yes, some parts of me have changed but not nearly as much as I would have hoped or even guessed would have been true. So what should I do with this sobering realization? There is lots I would want to be, but my history tells me that I will still wish I prayed more, weighed less, exercised more faithfully and shared my faith more earnestly with my neighbors. Statistics don’t lie (not sure that is always true!). But in this case, the data tells me that I will be setting the same kinds of goals next January.
In AA, they say often that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.” I guess that makes me a little crazy.
So what does a Type A person do? Should I give up goals? Plans? I am not sure I can… or really want to. As much as I fail, I do believe that my intentional attention has made some difference cumulatively over the years.
So this year I am going to do two things (I hope). This year I am going to do the same thing differently. I am going to set goals, but make the pursuit of them secondary. Secondary to what? To being present in the moment.
Sadly, I have missed God in the present in the pursuit of the future. I have made what might even be called “progress” in my own life but it still fell short of the goal. I miss the beauty of a conversation with my wife in the pursuit of a better marriage. I miss the blue sky or the sound of the birds as I walk because I am trying to walk faster and further. I miss what and whom I have because I am pursuing who I should be.
So I want to be present today, in the moment, in the meeting, at the lunch, even washing the dishes. I want to see people’s hearts as well as hear their words. I want to “seize the day,” not necessarily dramatically, but in ordinary ways. I want to focus on this lap of the race rather than the finish line.
Now my fear is that I will be less productive. I won’t change as much or get as far. And I hope that is OK because I will have seen where I have been and not just where I was going.
In the moment
That would be a big change… and that’s what I want to be in 2015.
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.