“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.” — Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
My mom has always been big on New Years Eve. I remember it always being something she was excited about. As a kid I never really “got it,” her thing about the new year. For her I suppose it had a lot to do with re-birth, renewal, new opportunities, fun, champagne…a fresh start. I understand it now more than I did as a younger man. We all want another helping of dessert and we all want hope in a bright and brilliant future.
These days it seems like so many people I know have wallpapered their lives with Pinterest quotes (on a side note I’d like to thank Pinterest for the fact that I drink whiskey out of a Mason jar these days). Inspiration, aspirational, motivational. Yet at the same time distant, thin, manufactured. Cliche. Somebody else’s words. Somebody else’s advice on how to live (ex. “Rule Number 1: Never be Number 2”) What does it mean when you have to go to the digital world to find another person’s advice on how to aspire to live in the real world?
“Chase!” they say. “Chase the dream! Chase the money! Chase the Love! Chase the power! Surround yourself with other Chasers! Chase or you’re not Successful!” Chase like a greyhound at the track…the lure is always out there.
But they never say that Mattering, a Life that matters, is what matters. They only tell us to be who we’re not. Live where we’re not. Feel as we’re not. The implication is that we’re “less than” what we are at this moment. So we make resolutions. By definition a “resolution” is “the act of finding a solution to a conflict or problem.” As such, making a resolution implies that something is rotten in Denmark.
This morning while walking the dog the Missus asked me if I made new year resolutions. I said I didn’t. They’ve never worked for me. But what I have learned, this year in particular, is to stay the course. Stay the course. Be here, be present, be grateful, be mindful, be appreciative, be consistent. Do things that matter, which is to say, enrich the life and love I have right in front of me at this very second. That’s worked for me remarkably well this year (and I can think of many years when I didn’t do those things and my life more or less sucked). Far better than chasing phantoms and speculations is to slow down and appreciate the gifts that are right in front of me. Far better than waiting for an fictional Xanadu. Living. Simply living, every day, as well as possible, has kept my feet on the ground and my heart full of love and laughter this year. Life is long in that regard. We’ve got so many opportunities to live in the world rather than exist along the edges until a metal rabbit comes full circle and we chase the artifice anew.
If there’s any type of resolution I’ll make for 2015 it’s simple: Live. Now. Be Present. Stay the course. Love, full stop. So to all of my friends, my amazing family, and most importantly the Missus, I’m grateful and humbled by all of you. Life is long when you live in it! Happy new moment. Happy new minute. Happy new hour. Happy New Year.