Sudden revelations and insights invariably visit us with the dawn of a new year, often segueing into fervent (and usually brief or soon forgotten) resolutions. They flare, subside and peter out all too quickly because high-minded resolve is far too difficult to sustain on a daily basis.
A (sometimes rueful) contemplation of the detritus of the past year (and the many years preceding the last one) might lead to a consideration of how things could have been done – or turned out – differently. Utterly futile, because everything that has happened, has happened; the habits are in place and comfortably so.
So a first resolution is not to make resolutions, but to be resolute without having to articulate the intention. You know what you have to do, if it is important enough to make that change.
It is convenient though, to buy into the traditional hype of new beginnings every three hundred and sixty five days, new beginnings that hold the promise of change for the better and – to quote Oprah Winfrey – another chance to get it right.
Here’s the epiphany – it is not new beginnings we need, but new conclusions.
Having decided to jettison the annual experience of personal disenchantment and disillusionment (the path to hell being paved by good intentions), I am all for new ideas, fresh thoughts and directions to explore.
The one true gift of a new year is the opportunity it presents to contemplate and/or introspect, often triggered by the profusion of reflective, philosophical and just plain interesting articles that appear in print and online. There are some that I revisit, even though they were written a couple of years ago, because the thoughts and reflections remain current, germane and relevant.
The Transcendental Moment
This article by David Brooks (a review of the book All Things Shining by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly) is timely as a new year read. The worldly, material way of life of the past century has resulted in frustrations, anxieties and indecisions becoming – more often than not – a daily norm. Mr. Brooks interprets the transcendental moment – the varied, unrelated, often uplifting moments that occur when engaged in a meaningful activity, even if it is just making a perfect cup of coffee with a well-crafted pot and cup. We should he suggests, cultivate a spirit of gratitude and wonder for the many excellent things the world supplies.
Yes indeed, a shift in perspective can make all the difference.
The Green School
The International Baccalaureate results are out and a local Singapore school has achieved – again – a higher than usual percentage of the perfect scores (45) awarded globally. This doesn’t come easily.
Scores and stats, streaming and cramming, tests and revisions, memorization and hours of daily study … this is the life of the average student. What are the options ? It is refreshing to read about small-scale and grassroots learning and an internationally recognized curriculum taught in English amidst bamboo and vegetable patches. The Green School, located in Bali, focuses on sustainability as a way of life, offering a creative, innovative and multicultural education amidst the mystique of Bali — its arts, ubiquitous temples and gentle climate — which attracts entrepreneurs, artists, healers and some staff members from nongovernmental organizations …
Almost makes one want to go to school again !
Our Web-articulated Selves
What happens to the multitudinous photographs, profiles, tweets, videos, uploads, personal data, opinions, lists, ratings, reviews, blogs and status updates – all our digital possessions and expressions that we accumulate in virtual space … when we die ? What will they become – the legacy of a life or mere digital litter ? Can we achieve cyber-immortality ? Who offers digital after-life management ? Are there digital executors ?
In our mindless and frenetic zeal to share (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr et al), it is worth taking a few moments to ponder the consequences of our keyboard-shackled lives.
TIME’s Best Inventions of 2012
This is an annual favourite, a dip into the future of technology, science and the arts. Enjoy, and be amazed !
Photographs borrowed from various Websites.