Unchained I: Wonder

Each time over the past couple of years that I’ve heard, read or said this, “Happy New Year,” something in me is unsettled. It just happened again.  I used the phrase in a text to an old friend and found myself wondering: What is it about this chain of words that bothers me?  After all, it’s intentions are good, as it’s shared with well-meaning and hopeful affection.  Then, it finally dawned on me… 

It’s cold this very early morning.  It’s the kind of damp Midwest cold that chills our bones as it permeates our skin.  I can hear the wind whipping around outside and can feel the draft brush the back of my neck.  I’m snuggled into old, beat up sweats and cozied into my favorite corner of my living room.  Alongside me to my right a single lamp on dim, my favorite gel pen with parchment paper for writing, and a cup of yummy hot coffee in a clay mug that says “Peace,” To my right, my little fireplace is burning and my furry 9 year old puppy, Lallo, is back soundly sleeping with his chubby paws strewn across my lap.  I wait on the first signs of dawn – my favorite time.  All seems possible. I’m grateful… I am warm, comfortable, loved, and a new day is rising.   It runs through my mind again, the unsettling “Happy. New. Year.”

Happy: a state of overall life satisfaction and feeling good on a daily basis

New: opposite of anything old

Year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes, and 31,536,000 seconds

It flies through my mind before I can actually grasp those numbers: “that’s really a whole lotta pressure, too much pressure on top of all the pressures.”

We relentlessly expect so much of ourselves today, and then, in turn, we expect the same of others.  We’re supposed to have it all, do it all, be it all – no excuses. We expect ourselves to look great and feel great,  to realize some grand purpose, to self-heal, to think sharply, create brilliantly, decide decisively, and on and on. The awakening, peace and joy of moments is sqaushed under these expectations.  All while the events of our days, the activity of our months, the results of years, the expected success of our lives disappoint and disillusion us.  Too much pressure. Let’s be unchained from it all, if even for a brief pause in time.

Here’s the thing: living – coming alive – just doesn’t happen under this kind of pressure. Anger, heartache, pain, anxiety, loneliness, chaos, struggle, emptiness, depression, suffering… this is the stuff that happens under this kind of pressure. So, perhaps it’s time for a different kind of wish that we give to others – and to ourselves.  Imagine along with me… 

What if peace replaced happy?

What if wonder replaced new?

What if moments replaced year?

Peace Wonder Moments

Peace in-dwells in one deep breath. Life invites itself in when we Wonder. Awakening happens in just this moment, and now this moment, and now this moment.  Say this chain of words:  I wish you “Peace Wonder Moments.” Feel the weight of the pressure lift and the burden of the expectations dissolve?  I do as I say these words:   “Peace Wonder Moments”.   There’s a little lightness in my heart and a slight uplift in my internal voice.  Where there was duty there’s exploration and adventure. Where I felt burdened, I feel excited. And, where there was pressure, there seems to be ease. 

And, so I wish for you, and I and our loved ones, for our families, friends, neighbors, colleagues, communities, nations… to be unchained from the all of this pressure. I wish for you better than a Happy. New. Year.  I wish you “Peace Wonder Moments.”  And, I wish you all of the possibilities of this very day rising.  

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