“The time is NOW.”
This, my dear reader, is a phrase that cannot be read in a monotone. Alright, now how many of you smart alecks just read it sounding like a robo-You just for the sake of making a point? Very clever of you. I assure you, I’m laughing quite heartily at your snarky cyber-wit.
Starting over: That line likely left you with one of two impressions.
The first: You felt like some sort of classic MachoMan/Woman leading a crew of your finest. Taking a stance of ultimate coolness, you pose and shout: “The time to claim our destinies/some sort of glory in the name of higher causes/honor of some illustrious variety is *wait for it* now!” Whether leading a charge into battle or simply searching for some rowdy “Huzzah!” in the name of adventure, some classic hero is taking shape in your head and that line takes on a connotation of courage.
The second: The time is Now. “I’M GOING TO COUNT TO THREE. ONE… TWO…” No, you never get to three. Me? I have an image of my mother, stern as frostbite, with her fingers slowly counting down as a more youthful version of myself struggled to complete some unmet demand before that last bell tolled. Any person who was ever once a child (that would be you) has likely faced this fearsome countdown at some point in time, giving the word “NOW” an entirely new meaning.
One image? A rallying call. The second? A crackdown.
Oddly enough, people seem to approach the new year with one of these two mentalities. Either they have decided to rise to some new challenge in the name of bettering one’s self proactively (In 2012, I resolved to live a year of Optimism!), or they have recognized and condemned some vice and are using this new beginning as a chance to hold themselves accountable.
As for me… I’m stumped. YES, I know. I’d begun this entry of mine with the declaration that no one could escape that line without a feeling of exalted ambition or self-reprimand. Upon further thought, I realized that I began the new year in a state of monotone. And, though I threw a hefty dose of sarcasm at my fellow monotone folk (my apologies), I have realized that a synonym for a metaphoric “monotone” in this case might simply be Contentment.
Granted, a part of me misses the feeling of enlightenment that came with some defined purpose, some distinct awareness of MachoWoManhood or a Vice-Curing-Countdown. Am I lame? Robotic? To have no strong impression? How should I be living? What goal of mine shall span the year?
Writing that last question in my journal a few days ago, a thought hit me: Span a year? PSH. As chronically ambitious as we can be, I think it’s time to scale it down a bit.
I want to live by the _day_. True, it’s difficult to hold yourself accountable to something that takes a daily dose of concentration. Having a year-long commitment to optimism allowed me a day or two of complete and utter melancholy hidden among those days of CupHalfFullism. Sure, I rose to the call! As I enter a new year, I can say the world looks brighter than it did 365 days ago. Yet, I lived by the year, not the day. And perhaps moments were lost with that panoramic life-view.
This year? I have no long-term plan. Content enough with the direction of my life and relatively secure with the True North of my moral compass, I still believe I can make more of my day-to-day. Small opportunities that should not be left to pass.
I need to pause. Not too long, missing moments. But long enough to realize that some opportunities only ever come once. The chance to put words to gratefulness, love, or empathy. The chance to do a small act of kindness, filling a need that will only exist for a time… but why not meet it? The chance to compromise before an argument becomes stagnant and bitter. The chance to stand up for some cause worthy of immediate attention.
Moments are often compared to grains of sand in a bucket. You can afford to disgard a few, you still have enough sand to make a decent sand castle if you keep plodding along. True. But the people who have left the most astounding impressions on me are those who give moments their full weight: boulders rolling through time. People who use a chance to pause as a chance to redefine their purpose, steadying themselves and those around them. Taking half a minute, now and then, to wonder: “Is my Now as good as it could be?”
This could easily turn into a routine of second-guessing. But, it’s my hope that a heart in the right place and some strong guidance will allow this new year’s resolution, a Pause, to become an avenue to richer moments and fuller days.
Yes, I want to better a year. But what would mean more to me? Leaving an impact, learning to give from the heart and live with intention each and every one of 525,600 minutes.