spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily

Taking Stock


Happy New Year, Grandma / AlisonR
It got to be the new year. At 12:03 I jumped up from the couch and greeted the year in the usual way. My grandson, who had worked overtime until 11 o’clock, bolted upright from the recliner where he had fallen immediately to sleep, pulled out his ear buds and distractedly said, “Happy New Year, Grandma,” only to fall back into sleep.

Rather than resolve to make changes or noticeably improve, I began this year by taking stock of the past year’s faits accomplis.  Although I did not actually read How to Win Friends and Influence People in the past year, I figured out for myself what Dale Carnegie meant when he wrote, “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

Last year I took Carnegie a step further by realizing it’s not what I think as much as that I think. Through the preceding year, sitting in meditation helped me separate from thoughts enough to see them come and go. With this increased awareness, I noted the extent to which I practiced self-aversion throughout the year. Although the past year was not the first time shortcomings took center stage, it was the year I began to treat them with curiosity and loving kindness. I took to heart the words of Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” So that’s what it has been about. It’s easier to imagine that I simply misjudged myself and have been harsh to no purpose.

Moreover in 2012, I played with the practice of limiting my inner conversations to all words except personal pronouns – subject or object, singular or plural. Each try filled my head with haikus. An interesting experience.

Tree-high fish most strange
Not meant for height, needing depth
Lies to nature’s face.

I expect the new year, like the last one, will see me getting older. Knowing how aging begets forgetfulness, I have these words from Friedrich Nietzsche for consolation: “The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.” That is great because I did read Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon, as if for the first time and suddenly remembered liking the book a lot the real first time I read it. Each experience was different 

This is not to say that forgetting didn’t carry a price tag in 2012. I missed the Dec. 10 deadline for property tax and had to pay the lateness penalty. Good idea to attach to the refrigerator along with tickets to upcoming theater performances, everything that needs remembering. I know I didn’t remember commitments just as I didn’t remember the myriad passwords I created on the spur of the moment for each new phone app or website requiring a password. But as the year came to an end, I learned to count on the calendar in the cloud. This year, every commitment I make at the moment I make it will leave a calendar trace.

Less double booking
Overlooking promises
Aloft in the cloud.

I lived an unplanned year in 2012 and still managed to learn and accomplish enough acts of random kindness to consider the year successful. In 2013, I anticipate more faits accomplis to contemplate at the end of the year. I have my bits of wisdom from last year to look at, a head full of haikus, useful information in the cloud, intentions to sit in silence and stillness. And there are always clever people expressing wisdom I can learn from. For example, Charles de Lint, who writes science fiction shares this truth: “It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses.”

Whispered kindnesses
Silent moments of wisdom
Paying attention.

Happy New Year!!


Linda Posner
1/10/2013 10:54:09 am

sweet! Thank you dear, for your gifts and love shared with all!

Carole Schultz
1/12/2013 09:56:04 am

(Fish) food for thought!

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