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New Year’s resolutions stress me out.
Not that I don’t try. Every first week of January I get quieter, sit down with a warm drink and welcome the New Year with a set of intentions. But they don’t weigh anything yet — or if they do, they are still naked thoughts, not things.
Deep down, I think I prefer manifestos. Because as opposed to resolutions, manifestos are flesh turned into words, instead of words waiting for a body.
Both are needed to create: the lessons you’ve already learned serve as a stairway to the ones you’re expecting to find on the next floor of your life. Although dynamic in its essence and always ready to be shaped and shifted, your life foundation should serve as a healthy basis for your imagination, they’re the foundation of You. You’re never done setting it but you need a glimpse of it in order to keep on building.
And when I think about my foundation, I realize it’s been built through my day-by-day and moment-by-moment, more than through any sudden revelation, almighty aha or a blinding display of light.
It’s like a wedding. Anyone can get married. But maybe the real celebration should come fifty years later, because, although happening in present tense, our life can only be measured and understood in reverse.
It’s called Storytelling. We first invent the world but it doesn’t begin to exist until we tell it.
Though important, it’s not the big aha moments that determine our fate, but what we learn from long, beautiful and painful years of human experience.
Our 99% happens as we’re doing our dishes, cleaning the house, taking care of our children,
drivingbiking to work, buying our groceries, talking (and by that I mean listening) to a friend or co-worker, cooking dinner, kissing our other (or our cat) goodnight, getting the job done.
The blinding light that brings you to your knees only accounts for the 1%.
I’d like to share some truths that resurface through each one of my drafts. Think Declaration of Interdependence, 10 commandments, seven prayers, 108 mantras…
‘Cause — like someone whose name I can’t remember said once — every breath is a second chance…
1. You’ve got nature’s blueprint within you. You can’t exist or function outside your ecosystem. You need all the green you can get. Let the planet take care of you. She’s got billions of years of experience.
2. You are not replaceable. Your loss is also mine. You’re not an island. There’s a “you” only because there is foremost a “we”. Open the door.
3. You have a purpose. It’s your life’s quest to discover and honor it. Start by finding out what moves you and how you can serve others with it. Don’t live somebody else’s life. Nothing you could ever accomplish means anything without your signature on it.
4. Be grateful, even when you’re not. Don’t resist the ugliness. Every beast can become a prince, and every hell a heaven, when looked at with the right eyes.
5. Quiet your mind daily. Most times she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
6. Eat with your head. Your taste buds will follow. What you put in your body at least three times a day makes a huge difference.
8. Art is not a museum thing. Art is you and me, with a cup of herbal tea. Let your inner artist break loose. This life is your canvas. You don’t get to paint it twice.
9. Laugh at yourself every day. With tears. Even at your parents’ jokes.
10. Most things are not impossible. Don’t just beat the odds, be the odds.
11. Be genuine and honest in the little matters, especially when no one is watching. Life is made up of one small choice after another. The only thing that varies is the number of people watching you.
12. Get away often. Whenever possible, go to other countries. It’s not as expensive as you think. You can always camp or couch surf. There are many different versions of you out there. And they are such interesting people.
13. Ride a bike whenever you can. Whistle. Bark.
14. Talk to children and animals often. They know the meaning of life.
15. Look people in the eyes. Everyone needs to be seen.
16. Take responsibility for your actions. Mean the things you say and do the things you mean.
17. Practice humility. Eat your ego like a candy bar. You’re not perfect. Mistakes are just ways in which your life doesn’t work.
18. Fear can be your best friend when it’s not your worst enemy. If it stands between you and your story, take a deep breath and write it anyway.
19. You are going to die. But you’re alive now.
20. Be vulnerable. A broken heart is easier to mend. Everybody hurts. Pain is a pointer, not a killer.
21. What separates you from everyone else is an illusion. You are made from the same material. The same basic feelings, truths and lies run through each one of us, the same rain falls on us and sun shines above our heads. Our differences are merely differences in perception. All the beauty of life and the blueprint of the universe is contained in its smallest manifestations. Pay attention. Get your eyes used to digging out the beauty out of every situation and every person.
22. Plug into your Source daily. Have a moment of solitude with God, your Higher Self, the Universe, whatever’s in charge of that Sun above your head and makes the birds so happy.
23. Love. This is the only rule with no exceptions.
What’s occupying you on a daily basis? What vows would you exchange with life if you could marry her again, for the first time?
Knowing your revolution is all right, but what’s your evolution?
Drop everything and ink it now. You don’t need money or much time or an amazing brain to leave a legacy. It all starts with a pen, a piece of paper and a heart.
*A version of this post has also been shared on elephant journal.