Start The New Year With a Little Truth or Dare

Now let us welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

One year ends, another begins.  The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s invocation to us to be open to receiving the New Year’s bountiful blessings challenges me to look deep within – not only in anticipation of all the wonderful new things that have never been before, but in wistfulness for the simple abundance overlooked.  Splendid gifts overlooked because they were hiding beneath Life’s plain brown paper wrappers.

Before Simple Abundance, I obsessed on the perfection of my days rather than on their lush possibility.  Consequently, I didn’t welcome the New Year with as much joy and good cheer as I do now.  Instead, I greeted January with steely will, dogged determination, and a list of resolutions so demanding and daunting I was doomed to fail from the start.  “This year I’ll earn a hundred thousand dollars, write a bestseller, study sculpture, stop smoking, lose thirty pounds, learn to lambada, become fluent in French, build a barn, raise rare sheep, conquer clutter, redecorate the kitchen, hike the Himalayas, and master the stock market,” I used to promise myself.

Was I out of my mind?  In a word: yes.  naturally, by the end of the first week of January I was emotionally exhausted by my unrealistic expectations.  And so, year after year, no matter how hare I tried, my impossible ambitions made me feel like a complete failure, privately and publicly.  Who could live up to that woman’s hallucinations, and who’d want to anyway?

One New Year’s Eve, as I reviewed a decade’s worth of personal diaries recording a litany of unfulfilled longings, I realized that I had woven a subtle but strong pattern of self-defeating behavior into my life.  By always taking on too much at once – and yearning for instant transformation – I was unconsciously engaging in self-sabotage.  What’s more, I realized that my unrealistic annual resolutions were designed less to improve the quality of my life than to lift me out of the banality of my “ordinary” existence as a wife, mother, and journeyman writer.

Truth or dare:  How many times have you prayed for a life “less ordinary” than the one you’re living?  If you’re being honest, you’ll say, “Often.”  Can I challenge you to a dare?  Today, stop praying for anything other than the life you have!  Join me as we tear up that list of resolutions.  You don’t need them anymore.  All you have is all you need.  But more than that, all you have is all you could possibly want.  If you don’t believe it, stick close by me this year and I’ll prove it.

So before we begin the year, with a sense of adventure, give thanks for your most “ordinary” life.  This is how the miracle begins, as we embark with a sense of adventure seeking the splendid in the simple gift of the everyday.

Sarah Ban Breathnach
Excerpted From Romancing the Ordinary – A Year of Simple Splendor

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