Begin with giving, a Meaningful New Year: A challenge for change | Sunday Observer

Begin with giving, a Meaningful New Year: A challenge for change

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them, ourselves. The book is called, ‘opportunity’, and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” - Edith Lovejoy Pierce - (1904-1983) twentieth-century poet.

The dawn of every New Year offers an opportunity to look into the past and also provides a window into the future. It brings the feeling of gratitude for the blessings of the year gone by and at the same time, offers a challenge for change in the New Year, that has dawned.

Today, as I look for ways to be a more balanced individual in year 2017, my first thought is to restart the yoga exercising program. It is a nice thought, isn’t it? Since I am now retired, my time could be better scheduled in the mornings and then I may have more time for all those little things I didn’t get around to doing in 2016.

However, when I visualize the whole picture more rationally, those little things do not bother me as much as one particular item: I realize I didn’t give to charities or give my time and energy to anyone besides my family and friends last year. The thought bothers me. My excuse – “no time” – doesn’t make sense: the real reason being my adamant hesitancy to get out of my comfort zone. Simple as that!

Today, when I am contemplating a meaningful New Year, I realize it should begin with giving. Not only to family and friends, although they are important, but to those who I don’t know, but should care about. People who are sick but cannot afford medicine, or children who like to study further but do not have resources!

Balanced New Year

Yet, the question remains: How do I reach out to these people in need? I’m talking not just about people with monetary needs, but spiritual needs. (My new neighbours come to mind, but again I ask, how do I reach out? They don’t seem friendly or considerate, so it is easy to wish they weren’t there and just ignore them). But, is it the ‘right’ thing to do?

So, in essence, my goal for having a more balanced, meaningful New Year in 2017 is that I would find ways to reach out and give my time and resources to people beyond my friends, family, and business circle. That is what would make a meaningful New Year for me.

The thought reminds me of a short poem by George Eliot,

“To Make This Life Worthwhile”

May every soul that touches mine

Be it the slightest contact

Get there from some good

Some little grace; one kindly thought

One aspiration yet unfelt

One bit of courage

For the darkening sky

One gleam of faith

To brave the thickening ills of life

One glimpse of brighter skies

Beyond the gathering mists

To make this life worthwhile


You might ask me now, “What about resolutions?” Many of us, including me, have become cynical about making New Year’s resolutions. They eventually prove to be unattainable and become a source of self-reproach rather than self-improvement. Nevertheless, I would like to pass along 7 pieces of advice if you wish to make a few positive resolutions for this year.

1. Begin by doing what you can. No more, and no less. Don’t throw yourself against the wall. You can’t do the impossible, but so much is possible. So, many of the things you haven’t tried you still can do. Remember, to get around the wall, you can set out in either direction, the wall has two ends. The important thing is to start walking.

2. Begin with those who are closest to you. They can cheer you only if you let them. Invite them to lend you a hand and to take your hand. No one can take your hand if you bury it in your pocket. You say they won’t cheer you, help you out, or take your hand? Maybe not, but how will you know without asking?

3. Begin by turning the page. Today, you can open a new chapter in your life. If you are trapped in your story, stuck in one place or botching the same old lines, revise the script. Practice a new line or two. Resist the temptation to wallow over some dark passage until you know exactly what went wrong. Besides, perfection is not life’s goal. Neither is unnecessary pain.

4. Begin by cleaning up your slate. Don’t erase the past. File it under the heading “experience”, keep it handy should you need it. But don’t obsess over it. Ticking off a growing list of grievances gets you nothing from life’s store. As for things on your ‘To do’ list that you’ll probably never do, place them under a statute of limitations. When they serve no longer to inspire but only to haunt you, cross them off.

5. Begin by looking for new questions, not old answers. Close doors to Answers, and open them to Questions. Answers lock us in. Questions lead us to adventures.The more questions we have, the farther we can see.

6. Begin with little regard for where your path may lead. Destinations are overrated, never what you imagine. Until life ends, no destination is final. The best destinations are those you look back upon as new beginnings. Good journeys always continue.

7. Begin in the middle. Our lives will end mid-story, so why not begin there? Don’t wait around for the perfect starting pistol or until you are ready. You may never be ready. No reason to wait in the grandstand for some official to guide you to the gate. Jump the fence.

Meaningful New Year

In good spirits, let me wish you a Meaningful New Year. Let me also give you a quote from T.S. Eliot to make your beginning more philosophical.

“What we call a beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time”.