6 Unburned Pieces of The Mind
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20051227

A New Year's Resolution

It’s the day after Christmas, and outside is not at all what a wintry scene should look like. Forty-two degrees and raining, what snow we had left yesterday is now mostly gone. Although it may be mild today, winter will eventually take claim again and usher the warm air out, burying us in a thick blanket of knee-deep snow that will last through the sub-zero days of January to come.

This last week of December is good to have. After a month long frenzy of shopping and celebrating and exchanging gifts, it’s nice to be able to unwind before the New Year begins. Perspective these days seems to be in short supply, thus anytime to afford sitting on the couch to relax without music or TV is both welcomed and honored.

Add to that a yellow pad of paper, a pen, and a few good books to read, and what you have is the perfect recipe to help overcome any funk brought on by the doldrums, which for me at this time of year seems to be a recurring battle.

It wasn’t until my son moved away, though, that I’ve realized how much of a battle it has been. It used to be that I thought my transition from being married to being divorced was hard to accept, but that experience pales to the transition I’ve made from being a single parent to a single person.

In some ways, it feels like I’m right back where I was twenty-one years ago, though now older, but not necessarily wiser. The only real difference I’ve noticed between then and now is that then, I was in a hurry to charge on and get going with my life, whereas today I am not.

Today, I find myself being more deliberate about how I spend my time. For instance, not only do I take time to pay attention and observe what I’m feeling at any particular moment, I also take time to pay attention and observe the small things that are going on around me: crows hob-bobbing across the yard, chortling amongst themselves, rain beating against the window, and voices heard out in the hallway. Small things that seem like push pins that hold the sleeves of a new day together. How we unfold and wear it does make all the difference, especially on a day like this when the sky is low and gray.

What this coming year will bring compared to what this last year has brought I hope is more tranquil and forgiving. Certainly this past year has been unlike any we’ve experienced in some time. Starting with the Asia Tsunami that claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, and left countless others faced with the loss of homes, possessions and entire communities, the devastation we’ve experienced in our country with Katrina, and the ongoing struggle that the people of Pakistan are faced with in the aftermath of the earthquake that destroyed the northern mountain region of that country, one cannot help wondering what kind of days we are living in. Coupled with the War on Terror, one can’t help wondering, indeed.

It is my hope, then, that in this year to come, we will begin to find ways to agree instead of differ. The too often insane, political rhetoric from Washington D.C. is fractious and counter-intuitive to bringing a nation together that so desperately needs to be joined in a sense of common purpose during a time that is fraught with peril.

The obstructionist behavior of both the Republicans and Democrats has to stop. Aside from our commitment that needs to be satisfactorily completed in Iraq, there are other issues that need to be equally addressed. Affordable housing, healthcare and livable wages, for example, are issues both parties could work together on to try and find acceptable solutions that will allow the citizens of this country to participate in society in more meaningful ways.

Witness today’s middle-class, for example, which seems to have become an economically endangered species. When millions of two-income families can barely afford their rents and mortgages, or seek necessary, preventative healthcare, or have to make choices between paying bills and buying food, something is terribly wrong. Something that goes beyond being conservative or liberal, something that cries for true, effectual leadership that will join us once again as a nation of people who work toward building a good life together for all its citizens, instead of the rampant greed that holds everyone else back, and makes it almost impossible for our young people to get a good start on their lives.

That is what I would like to see as our New Year’s resolution. The mealy-mouthed rhetoric of Pelosi and Haskell, Reed and Frisk needs to end, and so does the tearing down of President Bush. Such behavior does not solve problems, but instead acerbates and creates more problems, especially in terms of how our sense of unity, purpose and resolve is perceived by other world countries.

A hard rain has begun to fall. In the quiet space of my living room, the only sounds heard are those of the water running off the roof and the purring of my cat curled in a lazy sleep on my lap. With the distractions and the hustle and bustle we contend with each and every day, the dissonance in search of a consonant, quiet moment such as this is a necessary prescriptive in reminding us why we make resolutions. Afterall, we are only travelers on this planet, each of us embarked on this journey through life together in our continual search for validity and truth. As Frost says so well,

"There is our wildest mount—a headless horse.
But though it runs unbridled off its course,
And all our blandishments seemed defied;
We have ideas we haven’t tried." – From, “Riders”


By S. L. Cunningham