Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year, Maybe

Every year at the end of December we naturally reflect on how our world has changed in the previous twelve months. We remember, we yearn, we celebrate, we regret. We look back on our lives --- our failures and accomplishments, significant events and milestones, the happy times and the not so great moments --- while the media feeds us a steady diet of historical retrospectives and pop culture lists to ponder (the worst, the best, and this year, especially, the dead).

By almost anyone's standards, this has been a shit year.

As the new year has drawn closer, social media has increasingly reflected the challenges 2016 foisted upon us. I can't swing a dead cat around my Twitter feed without hitting a "Hey 2016, Go Fuck Yourself" meme. Things are a bit more tame on my Facebook timeline, but the general sentiment is the same...things will get better next year. Because they have to.

But they don't.

While I don't know the larger personal context around many of the "Can 2016 Just Die Already" social media posts (after all, that's the magic of the internet - we learn a fragment of the truth without ever working to get the whole story), I am concerned that our expectation may be that somehow just making it to January will be enough to turn the tide, that simply flipping the calendar page will reset the game.

But it won't.

There is no magic at midnight on December 31st. Not this year, not ever. Robert Pirsig said, "The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there." That's how I'm choosing to think about 2017. If you want a happy new year, you better bring some happy.

I want 2017 to be a better year. I want to be less anxious and more joyful. I want my friends and family to experience more kindness and less bitterness. I want the world to be filled with more justice and less tragedy. It occurs to me that this is a simple but aggressive list of wants, and I have limited control over the outcome of most, if not all, events on this planet. That doesn't mean I'm helpless though. I determine my attitude. I decide how I present myself to others. I choose how well I listen and learn, how I communicate my message, how I adapt. I choose my own actions and reactions. I can shape the conversation.

And I will.

Weekend Zen, December 31 - January 1

The happiest moments my heart knows are those 
in which it is pouring forth its affections 
to a few esteemed characters.

~ Thomas Jefferson

Friday, December 30, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, December 30

I am afraid. Not of life, or death,
or nothingness, but of wasting it
as if I had never been.

~ Daniel Keyes

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Daily Zen - Thursday, December 29

If you are truly aware of five minutes a day, 
then you are doing pretty well. 
We are beset by both the future and the past,
and there is no reality apart from the here and now. 

~ Peter Matthiessen

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Daily Zen - Wednesday, December 28

Loneliness is the human condition.
Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you
allows your soul room to grow.

~ Janet Fitch

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Daily Zen - Tuesday, December 27

If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much
extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, 
the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire,
the arrangements of the stars, and the form of a galaxy.
You are all just like that, and 
there is nothing wrong with you at all. 

~ Alan Watts

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Weekend Zen, December 24-25

Mindfulness is the capacity to shine the light 
of awareness onto what's going on here and now. 

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, December 23, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, December 23

Let yourself be silently drawn by
the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.

~ Rumi

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

Daily Zen - Monday, December 19

A garden is always a series of losses 
set against a few triumphs, like life itself.

~ May Sarton

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Weekend Zen, December 17-18

Be content with what you have,
rejoice in the way things are. 
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

~ Lao Tzu

Friday, December 16, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, December 16

I am alone here in my own mind. 
There is no map and there is no road. 
It is one of a kind just as yours is.

~ Anne Sexton

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Daily Zen - Thursday, December 15

You need not leave your room. Remain sitting
at your table and listen. You need not even listen,
simply wait. You need not even wait, just learn to 
become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world
will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. 

~ Franz Kafka

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Daily Zen - Wednesday, December 14

Step into the fire of self-discovery. 
This fire will not burn you,
it will only burn what you are not.

~ Mooji

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Daily Zen - Tuesday, December 13

How beautiful the world was when one looked at it
without searching, just looked, simply and innocently.

~ Herman Hesse

Monday, December 12, 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Weekend Zen, December 10-11

And if there is not any such thing as a long time,
nor the rest of your lives, nor from now on,
but there is only now, why then now is the thing 
to praise and I am very happy with it. 

~ Ernest Hemingway

Friday, December 9, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, December 9

Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued,
is always beyond our grasp, 
but which if you will sit down quietly,
may alight upon you.

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Daily Zen - Tuesday, December 6

This life of ours would not cause you sorrow
if you thought of it as like
the mountain cherry blossoms
which bloom and fade in a day.

~ Murasaki Shikibu

Monday, December 5, 2016

Daily Zen - Monday, December 5

The man who can drive himself further 
once the effort gets painful
is the man who will win. 

~ Roger Bannister

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Weekend Zen, December 3-4

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance
to love and to work and to play 
and to look up at the stars.

~ Henry Van Dyke

Friday, December 2, 2016