One word, one goal, many paths

Okay, so I wasn't going to do a year end post and it's so late on New Year's Eve that I doubt anyone will read it anyway, but after reading my friend Bethany's post here, my mind wouldn't rest.  One thought, primarily one word kept popping up into my head.

I don't really focus on specific plans or make New Year's resolutions any longer. I discussed the reasons for that here just the other day.  I have loose goals and ideas that I work towards using proven routines and procedures to improve my life and my ability to add some kind of value to this wonderful Universe.  The goals can change along the journey.

The one word ( or idea ) that kept popping into my head was Awaken.  You see Bethany had a terrible childhood experience that distorted her views on life.  She was afraid and fearful and living with a distorted reality.  She was afraid to believe that life can be just as beautiful as it is sometimes ugly.  We often limit our experiences because we are afraid of the unknown, we don't want to be let down.  As I discussed a few days back ( The limiting aspect of limits );  as you shrink your life and experiences, to limit the bad things that may happen, you also limit the good things that you bring into your life.  Bethany survived and is alive, but even better she has a passion to LIVE!

So if I have a goal or resolution for 2013 it is to Awaken.  I want to wake up from this hazy, delusional state that most of us live in.  I want to see all of the joys, the heart aches, the beauty, the ugliness.....I want to see life as it is.  I will still use known procedures and routines and focus on them more than the goal.  The goal is so lofty that I may as well enjoy the process.  In 2013 I will read, I will meditate, I will emphasize relationships, I will try to be completely honest and mindful of all of my thoughts and actions, I will try to "see things as it is" (as Shunryu Suzuki was fond of saying), and when I begin to see things as they are, surely I will share the lessons and try to help others along the way.  We are all seeking the same thing, all wandering along many paths toward the same goal.

I'm going to close with a repeat of a poem that I published on here just a short while ago.  Maybe I'll publish it every day in 2013, I don't know.  It is that good.  I have included a Youtube clip of it being read aloud as well.    I'm convinced that when we awaken to what really matters we will find that compassion is the way to a meaningful life.

May we all awaken to the splendor of life in 2013.

Happy New Year.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye


  1. Well, Dan, that's twice this week that you've made me cry. And, although I'm tough and never, never cry, I don't think it's a bad thing.

    Thank you for telling my story. You told it beautifully, and I am honored.

    I am glad that I was able to inspire you on your spiritual journey, which I will follow closely, because I am seeking in that rhelm as well.

  2. I love that goal of awaken. It is the foundation of change. It can help us to see what is really around us and embrace the who we really are. The poem Kindness is amazing. I read it several times to savor its meaning. Thanks so much for sharing and have a peaceful new year.

  3. At some point we all need to give ourselves a little shake and check whether where we are in life is where we want to be. Some people do it more often than others and so they are better able to figure out what they want form their lives. They make changes slowly and gradually.

    Other people don't do it as often but they still do it. The changes that they make may seem dramatic to family and friends but usually, it's a change that they wanted to make all along.

    Sometimes people wake up when the need to change is staring them straight in the face. For example after they have been diagnosed with a major illness. Thanks for sharing.