“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.” –Mark Twain
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” –Theodore Roosevelt
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”- George Bernard Shaw
The best thing about welcoming the New Year is the renewed sense of hope it evokes in people’s hearts and minds. For hope is what keeps alive our desire to go on living. When hope is lost, life’s meaning and purpose is lost as well; hopelessness extinguishes whatever remaining flicker of life there is.
Conversely, the thought of making a fresh start or of closing a bad, unworthy chapter in our life inspires us to hail the New Year with enthusiasm. And turning on a new leaf, a blank page where we’re again free to weave a new story filled with better opportunities and brighter possibilities nudges us to step farther. Before long, we’re back in action.
It’s true though that not all who welcome the New Year with same hopeful, motivated and enthusiastic spirit necessarily live up to their promises and plans but it’s getting a shot at a better year that makes the New Year worth all the anticipation and optimism we can muster. At least, this 2016 we have 366 days (one extra day since it’s leap year) to try hard and keep trying even harder.
Looking back at 2015
Despite my promise to write articles for my column more consistently last year, I ended up missing a lot of our issues. To think that I didn’t even have to do the Gintong Pamana Awards that year, leaving me with more time and supposedly less stress to inspire my writing is a disappointment in itself. I blame no one else but myself for I know I could have done a lot better. I took the easy and lazy route, making up excuses though I knew I was fooling no one but myself.
I didn’t do any better either when it comes to taking care of my health. With my gastric pains recurring every three weeks I often ended up at the ER, saw my doctor more than I cared and went through surgery that didn’t fix my problem. And all because I didn’t follow my doctors’ prescribed diet as religiously as I should have.
I used to wonder why a friend would always eat food she knew was guaranteed to trigger her gout. Now I know better; more importantly, I understand. Still, when my son asked me at the hospital if the food I couldn’t totally give up on was worth all the pains I’d get later, I told him it wasn’t. And I meant it. No food, however good, could be worth the pains it gave me afterwards. Why in the world do I still do it, you’d ask? I might have an answer later in this column.
With the exception of my unusually frequent trips to the ER, the year 2015 came and passed in such a hurry. Personally, it didn’t feel like it was here long enough to make a difference in my life though I couldn’t say the same for the rest of the country and the world.
2016: Looking forward and up
Starting the year right begins with starting our first day right and repeating the process consistently each day until it becomes a habit and our second nature. I have used the above quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Roosevelt and George Bernard Shaw to capture the essence of my overall outlook, attitude and plans for 2016.
My first order of the day on January 1st will be to stop looking back at the year that just ended and start looking forward to a whole New Year ahead. As Emerson says, “Finish each day and be done with it…” 2015 is gone along with mistakes, blunders and absurdities I had made. Weeping over missed opportunities and success I could have had had we done or not done something won’t bring them back so why waste my time? As someone said, “although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” The key is to cut off our ‘regret chains’ to the past because they will weigh down on me and you thus making moving on very tough.
Second, as Walt Disney puts it, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Theories are only good when put into practice. Getting started, as Mark Twain puts it, is the secret of getting ahead. And “the secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
No task is too complex for someone who is determined to finish it. It is in solving the little problems that we discover the solutions to the bigger ones. As we learn to simplify our work, we realize that it’s really not as difficult as it looks.
Third, take a hint from Roosevelt’s practical wisdom. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Looking for the right moment, right reason and right place often causes us to miss the opportunities that are right under our noses. We ask for what we don’t have thinking it’s what we need to live, be happy or be successful and then blame its absence for our frustrations and failures. But our situations and conditions are never perfect. Successful people are those who see the perfect opportunity in an imperfect setting. They know how to make do with what they have.
If you’re watching Iron Chef and all the other variations of cooking competition in the food network, you’ll see how every participating chef tries to work with the ingredients in their basket and bring out their best dishes regardless of how seemingly disconnected and foreign the ingredients are. And like always, some of them are able to make all the ingredients work with one most creative winning the title and the prize money.
This illustration brings me to the fourth and last practical principle I’ve adopted, George Bernard Shaw’s. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” We will waste a lifetime of great possibilities if we keep trying to find ourselves. Life is what we make it. We can treat our situation as a challenge or a deterrent, a blessing or a misfortune and in so doing, summon our own success or failure, joy or grief. A lot of times, it’s really our call.
Finally, I have a pretty good idea why I kept eating the food that made me sick. At the back of my mind, I was hoping that it wasn’t really this food or that food that made me sick, that it was just a coincidence. Or, that if I ate just a little bit of it, I would be okay. I know… This stubborn side of my brain needs to be reprogrammed, better yet, simply deleted.
From Bart and me and on behalf of our staff, we wish you a great beginning and a happy ending but most of all, bountiful blessings in between and through all of 2016. Shalom! firstname.lastname@example.org