Now is the time for resolutions. To some degree most people make them. I am no different. I make many, every year. I am going to lose those 10 or so pounds I need to lose. I will work out more, pray more, eat less, or at least better. The turn of a new year is like a car tune up in a way, a reboot of the computer. The reality of how few of these get actualized in a year, and are lost before January is even history, may have something to do with our feelings of immortality. Deep down we know, or hope with all our might, that we will be around next year, and we will just do it then. I have to wonder myself if I might let these go believing in some strange way, if I were to accomplish them all, well, then what would I do next year? Which of course, means, I truly believe next year is mine already.
I remember fondly doing a Vestry retreat many years ago with a fabulous vestry from my home parish. A member of that vestry was one of the old, and he was, patriarchs of the parish. I had them do an exercise where they imagine if they were to die five years from now, what would they want people to say about them? Of course, the whole point is to show that usually what is on these lists are not possessions or even accomplishments, but attributes and relationships deepened; the punch line being, well why don't you live the next five years so that people would say all of that. This wonderful man, when first asked the question, what would you want people to say about you in five years, said, with a big smile, "he's alive!: I just want to be here in five years!" He, of course, had a good and timeless point.
And so, on this New Year's Day, surrounded by my family, sisters, mothers, fathers, I was thinking this same thing. I was musing about my "resolutions" watching some bowl game when the call came in, a frantic one, from my sister, who had just left our gathering hours earlier with her husband. She was desperately doing CPR, the ambulance had finally arrived. She did all she could, we met the ambulance at the ER and shortly after got the news, that her husband, who had sat right beside me at dinner just hours earlier, had passed on to larger life at the age of 45 leaving my sister and 6 children. His name was Norm. He was a good man who loved them all very much. The next day we were graced with lunch with our good friend, mentor, priest, Dennis Campbell, who just two weeks ago said goodbye to his wife, mother of our god children, priest, mentor, friend, Peggy Bosmyer.
Two days into 2009 and I had been given some rather pointed perspective. In both cases, what I hoped for was just one more conversation, a little more time, perhaps a little less of that notion that next year is mine, and that I will be part of it, along with everyone I love and value in this world. Of course we all have these moments in our lives, and then for some reason, maybe it is survival itself, we fall back into the inevitable illusion that we direct our time.
Perhaps the most difficult thing, and in the strangest way, the place I learned the most, was watching my 6 year old niece and nephew try to reason with the fact that their Dad was not coming back. They are, of course, at different places with this and yet their questions are the ones we all have. Most of us have answered them in one way or the other, some are answers of faith, and others simply the answer we need in order to go on, and in some cases both. Combine all of that with the many problems throughout the world, not the least of which is the continuing death and struggle in the Middle East and certainly some of our resolutions would pale in comparison.
I still have some things I would like to do this year, to better myself, always with the hope of more balance in my life. But perhaps more than anything, I hope I can just be more aware, and believe what has always been a line in my rule of life, that every day should be lived like it's my last, because one day it will be. Jimmy Buffett has a great song where he says, "I'd rather die while I'm livin' than live while I'm dead." These two, Norm and Peggy were great examples of just that, and that seems like a good resolution for us all, to truly, deeply, fully…. live.