As we enter 2010, two main conversations seem to have resonated around me. The first is talk of how 2010 seems to be a year that will bring good energy and positive changes. The other chatter is about the nearing of the apocalypse. One is about the beginning of something great to come and the other is about the end of all things before us. Is the glass half empty or half filled? The New Year serves as a metaphor for many things, for beginnings and ends and for all the changes in between. I suppose that whether or not we look at this time as the mark of a start or finish, the more important thing is that we can acknowledge the need for change.
Lately, the news and media have been talking about the apocalypse or the extinction of planet Earth. Each theorist has his or her own take on how the world will end. Some predictions are spiritually–based, while others are purely assessing scientific data trends. The sky is falling, religious figures are supposed to return and place judgment on us and nature and people are all supposed to die in horrible ways. Everyday, we are being warned that the wrongs we do are fueling a quicker end. Greedy warfare, sinfulness and environmental degradation due to overconsumption are some of the main issues that are said to lead to our eventual demise. While all this talk is going on in the media, there are still people like my aunt who tell me that this is a great year for bigger changes and stronger personal goals. We seem to be swirling around in this strange moment of both determination and despair. Which one have you chosen to focus upon for 2010?
It is tradition for many of us to proclaim resolutions and to predict what the next 365 days will bring, however minor or drastic it may be. I have many goals and high ambitions for this coming year that range from being healthier to developing a laughter-filled new marriage. My focus is not on what I can’t control, but what I can do with the life I’ve been given. In a time where many of us are faced with different types of loss and stress, it is also one of my hopes that I can seek and maintain my happiness and positivity even through hardship. What can I affect? How can I improve? How can I better serve and share with those around me? These are the questions I rather ask as I enter this year.
Resolutions should be about betterment, and I think that it is fortunate that the New Year can afford many of us the ability to pause for even just a couple of seconds to consider and share openly with one another how we can better ourselves. It’s one of the few times where we can sync-up our goals, as well as remind one another that we are all seeking self-advancement and progress. Sure, some of us will naturally join in on talk about the end of the world, but why not expend our energies on how to live our lives to the fullest? Why think of an end? Rather, why not think of what we can do with the time we have, however short we think that might be?
To discover and declare a new goal for oneself is a great ambition. The question is, how many of us will maintain our resolutions and how many will let our excitement fade by the end of month? It’s exciting to seek change and to pinpoint something we want to make better, but it’s no use if we don’t hold steadfast to our promises. How do we enter this year with more than just a vocalized declaration, but instead an actual followed-through commitment? How do we also ward off our self-made excuses that are so easy to formulate? The way I look at it, a resolution is in a way a blessing. Why? Because we are able to admit to ourselves at least once a year that we need to change something about ourselves. Some of us are open to change, but I wouldn’t doubt for minute that we have someone in our lives who is not. It is hard on some peoples’ pride. With time often comes complacency, which can lead to less inclination to look forward. No matter what age we are, no matter how much we think we’ve already achieved, no matter at what pace we move, I think it is important we think about improvement, about healing, about refinement, about forgiveness, about selflessness, about maintenance and above all, our true happiness.
As we take a look back at our past, what have we learned? What have you done for yourself and what have you done for those around you to bring happiness? What are obstacles that you still face as you enter 2010, and how are you going to hurdle over your obstacles? How much of yourself do you need to change in order to bring more balance and joy to the environment and people around you? How have you stopped yourself from growing in past years and how are you going to finally dismantle your own barriers to be closer to being a person you want to be?
I’ll leave you with those questions to begin your new year. We all have a lot for which to strive. We are our own projects, our own puzzles and our own nemesis, but as my friend Ana would say, “We are the architects of our own lives” as well. You can choose to be your own wall, or you can choose to be the designer of your life. Make it your year.
Mari Nakano can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.