A Time for Reflection

It is that time of the year again when most of us are conned into making New Year’s Resolutions we either cannot or don’t intend to keep. Swept up by the energy of “new beginnings”, we start to gear ourselves for what the new year may bring. We arm ourselves with lists containing hopes, dreams and fantasies. Maybe this is the year for taking action: no longer, we decide, will we allow the deadly routine of daily living to kill our adventurous side. This is the year of taking risks or leaving that all too cushy comfort zone and try something new.

“This is the year for me”, we proclaim. And so we grab a notepad and with great enthusiasm start to scribble down words that hold both the possible and the impossible. We ponder and plot our way through the next year, while obsessing over diets, exercise plans, far-off destinations and all those things we think we should do. We share it with those who ask, perhaps stick it onto the fridge door or simply allow it to scurry away into a dark corner where it soon starts to gather dust. As the demands of life slowly dissolve our wishes into the passing months, we start to experience an unsettling sense of failure. We beat ourselves up for not having enough will power or for not being good enough, and as  life drags us along, our yearning for adventure shrivels up and dies.

Every day will be ordinary, unless we choose to make it special and memorable.

It is when we realise the wisdom behind these simple words, that we will be able to ignite a spark of magic into our lives. We don’t have to go skydiving Mount Everest to experience the thrill of being alive or to marvel at the beauty of the world. It is the “ordinary” that we overlook in our quest for the “extraordinary” that, more often than not, holds the beauty or the thrill we are so desperately looking for.

Instead of wasting time on making endless lists that tend to set us up for failure, it may be a good idea to make a list of another kind. A list of all the joys, sorrows, highlights and achievements of the year gone by. This is exactly what I did this past week. At first I thought it was a fairly ordinary year. Yet, as I started to write my list, I realised that it was pretty extraordinary in many ways:

  • I had the privilege of spending many happy hours in great conversation with good friends during a visit to George;
  • I finished the last of the gruelling antibiotic treatment in a year-long programme to bring the Rickettsia I contracted towards the end of 2009 under control, that gave me my life back;
  • I got married in April;
  • I managed to write seven Creative Arts workbooks with the accompanied teacher guides;
  • I taught countless yoga classes that enriched my life through the many interactions with kind and generous human beings;
  • I walked the first two stages of The Rim of Africa trail that challenged me both physically and mentally;
  • and  I moved to the United Arab Emirates.

Wow, not too bad for a year that I thought ‘ordinary’! And the list only contains the bigger events. It doesn’t even start to recognise the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, the generosity of strangers, the appreciation of joyful interactions with loved ones, the diverse flavours of uncountable meals. . . What I have come to realise is that it is important for me to take time out for reflection, as I so often forget what I give, receive, master, or experience, and need to remind myself of the wonderous, the awe-inspiring and miraculous in my life on a regular basis to lift me out of the quagmire of self-doubt and into the realm of gratitude.

This year there will be no New Year’s Resolutions for me. Just gratitude for the many blessings I have received in 2011.

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1 Comment

  1. Riana van Niekerk Taljaard said,

    January 31, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Amen.


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