What better subject for the first blog of 2008 than to revisit the value of the new years resolution? This ritual is a common one that spans many cultures and geographies but how important is it really? Many of us have made these little promises only to break them before the month is out. Is there any value to the new years resolution or is it a waste of time?
The new years resolution asks us to revisit the past year. This reflection helps us recap and summarize our successes and failures. It is here that we are invited to analyze the mistakes that we made and to celebrate our good choices. It is a very up close and personal way to learn about the nature of consequences.
The new years resolution invites us to plan our future. It helps us formulate goals and to come up with an action plan for taking steps toward those goals. It is here that we are allowed to dream about what we want to be in a way that can be obtainable. It is here that we can learn how to take charge of our life.
The new years resolution helps us understand and value the nature of time. Over the years, these resolutions help us to see each life as a voyage. We look back at where we have been and call that the past, that which is known but cannot be changed. We look ahead to where we are going and call that the future, that which cannot be known but can be changed. Time is the ever present now which is the unfolding and transformation of the future into the past. The ritual of the new years resolution says that you are a ship. Grab the rudder and steer your life to where you want to go.
Learning about time and consequences is an important aspect of human development. Every religion has talked about the importance of consequences. Without the lesson of time, the lesson of consequences is simply this. Do good things and get rewarded. Do bad things and get punished. With the lesson of time, the lesson of consequences deepens significantly. We are defined by the choices we make. Religion isn't the only organized institution that codifies this lesson. The media reiterates this teaching through a long list of movies. The short list, of which, that comes to my mind is It's a Wonderful Life, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Harry Potter, even Spiderman 3.