good at living in a new decade

by pieces of moments

Throughout my life I have blessed to have my life full of people who are just good at living. They are people who really live out Thoreau’s words:

I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived

Whether it was my hometown friends, learning about growing up and laughing the whole way through; my college friends, being there for each other when life got bumpy, expanding our brains together, asking the tough questions of the world and of each other and reinforcing this experience of life with many prayers, hugs, sighs, and laughs; or my friends in my young adult life, learning how to navigate our careers together and cultivating an elegant domestic side that refreshed and reassured us when stress needed to be held at bay; it’s been incredibly good and wholesome to be surrounded by such deliberate living.

I’m thankful they are all in this life with me. I wish them all, both near and very, very far, a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year.  I wish the same to you and yours.

Speaking of the new year, can you believe we are entering into a brand new decade? The last 10 years have flown past and my life has changed dramatically several times within those years. When I sit and reflect I see a collection of things I did wrong and things I did right, a frenzy of experiences that ranged from beautiful to the most dark and terrible, and I think of what T.S. Eliot wrote:

We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness.

All those experiences coming at me and all those choices of how I would react. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.” Or, as Björk sang: “I can decide what I give/but it’s not up to me/what I get given.” If the only thing I can control in this life is my own reactions and attitudes, I hope this next year I will learn more fully how to use them toward becoming better at living.

So, since we have a new decade on the horizon, I challenge myself and all of you to resolve that 2010 will be a decade of living fully, intentionally,  and gracefully. May we all learn to give more of ourselves away, be better friends, to love our neighbors as ourselves, nurture our talents, passions, and souls, forgive fully, live in patience and not in anger, live in the present rather than the past or future, live outside our comfort zones, and cultivate new levels of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. And for those of us that have been given the gift of music or the arts in general, may we all learn how to use our abilities to continually make the world a better place.

My resolution for 2009 was to live without fear. Little did I know how many times I would need that resolution throughout the course of the year. But now, looking back on the last 365, my life is bigger, braver, and closer to that for which I believe I was intended. Fittingly, as some of you may remember, my cousin and I made a deal with each other that for the three months of this past summer we would do at least one thing every week that was either new, or pushed our personal comfort boundaries. It was a specified experiment in brave living. She (my cousin) sent me this list for inspiration at the beginning of our brave living quest, which I now pass along to you as you think about how you might like to challenge your life in 2010:

  • Try some new food.
  • Go on a silent retreat.
  • Ask for a raise.
  • Smile at strangers.
  • Say hello to people in the grocery store.
  • Be the first to say “I love you.”
  • Perform at an open mike night.
  • Eat at a local restaurant by yourself.
  • Take a day off from work to volunteer at your child’s school.
  • Go back to school.
  • Start a new business.
  • Unplug the TV for a week.
  • Write in a journal every day.
  • Learn to surf.
  • Get your news from different sources.
  • Use public transportation.
  • Wear an outrageous outfit.
  • Meditate for 15-minutes a day.
  • Put your cell phone in a drawer for a full week.
  • Call someone you admire in your community and ask them out for lunch.
  • Ask someone you admire to be your mentor.
  • Confront a phobia.
  • Say I love you to your parents/children/siblings/friends.
  • Admit you were wrong.
  • Go to a movie by yourself.
  • Give away all one-month’s income.
  • Give a public talk on a topic you’re passionate about.
  • Join a networking group.
  • Disconnect the Internet for a week.
  • Ask for help.
  • Enter an art show.
  • Forgive someone.
  • Join Toastmasters.
  • Start a blog.
  • Ask for a partial or complete telecommute arrangement at work.
  • Take lessons in something you’ve always wanted to try (art, music, woodworking, dancing, etc.).
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Read a book in a genre you don’t usually read.
  • Delegate more of your work.
  • Get up an hour earlier than usual.

Let’s all pick up the habit of being. In 2010, let’s be good at living.