Happy New Years, or as we say here, Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! (Actually, I haven’t heard anyone say that, its too hard.) Every year we get bombarded with the question of the New Years resolution, as evidently we are all taught to believe that something is wrong with us and we must be trying to improve upon our many faults. I’ve taken issue with this for years, as many others do as well. If there is something you want to change in your life, why wait until January 1? And why do we all have to be so self-critical?
Despite all that, I actually did decide for myself that 2012 will be my year of learning to embrace uncertainty. I was inspired by recently re-reading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart, which becomes more and more insightful with each passing year. Buddhism begins with the notion of human suffering, and that existence is defined by the innate desire to end suffering. Yet it is that very desire that causes us to mire ourselves in futile tasks, even if we think of those tasks as being noble. Traditionally, the concepts of desire and attachment seem to be very worldly, base, ugly human yearnings based on our own weak natures. But what about the desire for contentment? Or being attached to living in the present? Even these things cause us to suffer when we fail to obtain them.
I’ve had a lot of interesting things happen in the past year; 2011 was really a year of change for me, with new jobs, a life-changing personal injury, and the opportunity to fall in love with teaching yoga. Throughout it, I really had been trying to maintain myself in the present and feel gratitude in each moment, and I really feel like I succeeded for the most part. But at the same time, in my mind I was thinking that things would slow down and become easier. It was sort of like riding a rollercoaster and getting a kick out of it, but still wanting the ride to be over. However, I came to realize that pursuing, or even believing in, certainty and stability (those hallmarks of productive adulthood that society tells us are desirable and indicative of success) would guarantee that I would remain perpetually dissatisfied, always reaching, always striving. Life is fundamentally about change, and accepting that its always going to shift underneath your feet. There is no path, and there is no destination. All we have is impermanence. So in the spirit of New Years resolutions, this year is about embracing all the beautiful chaos, madness, disquiet and ambiguity of life and rolling with it.
I hope your own insights make your 2012 the most fulfilling ever! Namaste!