Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolve that...

 It's that burdensome time of the year when all people do is wait for the current year to end and the new year to begin. You count the months. Then count the days. Then count the hours and then painfully come to the final countdown which is seconds. And then the New Year begins with the hope that because one of the four digits has changed in the year everything, but everything, will change. All looks good. All izz well. 

And then the New Year dawns and in the harsh light of the morning all the good looks disappear and you're left with the stark reality of all your follies and your failings, your oversights and your overconfidence, your ignominy and your ignorance.

And shocked and ashamed you draw yourself to your full height (even though you're probably still in bed) and you decide this will all end. It has to end. It's a new day after all. And a new year to top it. 

And you resolve that...
Your world will change. 
You'll deal with your demons head on. 
All vices destroyed with one fell swoop of determination. 
Those niggling little quirks all vanquished with big doses of persistence. 
And with one large elaborate plan that will put large governments to shame you decide all the other failings will be taken care of. 

So out comes the paper and pen. Or probably the iPad. Or very likely just the Notes app on your phone. (Resolutions are so easy these days with tech!)

And with guns blazing, (alright, with the tip-tip of the key pad) you're off building a very impressive list. (The kind of list you make when you go to the supermarket - you dont want to miss a thing!)

And you get started. Wo! You're on a roll.
10 is better than 5. And 15 better than 10.
Quantity is better than quality.
And you're sure, of those 10 (or is it 12?) you ll definitely manage to succeed with 8, ok realistically 5, ok... At least all of January! 
But no, you're not set up for failure. This is it. This is the year. This is the watershed year. 2014! 

But hang on... What if... What if you just looked at one thing? One big thing? Or one small thing? Just one important thing that you want to change in the new year?

What if everything you did right through the year was devoted to it? Everything for one thing. 

Research says that the most popular resolution worldwide is to lose weight. I could take that example. What if I took that as my one and only resolution and did everything within my means to succeed in that? 

It means waking up early to work out (Resolution 7) eating healthy (Resolution 5)  managing work-life balance (Resolution 2) and finally getting some semblance of order and discipline in my life! (This being a bonus!) 

But of course this is not your resolution. You? You are the picture of fitness. 

So then, what's yours? 

Read more? 
Write more? (Mine.) 
Make more money? 
Spend more time with the kids? 
Devote more time to yourself? 
Win the Nobel Prize? 
Or the Pulitzer for God's sake!

Pick one. Just one. Take it and run. It's just that one thing you have to set your sights on! One single-minded focus. One steely resolve. A one track mind.

Chances are you'll fail. So what? Pick yourself up, brush off the dirt and get back on the wagon. it's just one thing to think about. 

And chances are you'll succeed. Whoa! Fabulous, you've got your ducks in a row. Now move on to another one. Pick another one. But yet, just one!  And if that goes well, another one again. Get it?

So for 2014 here's what you do...

Find one. And run. 

Simply resolve that... you'll succeed

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I heard the bells ring...

The bells…they’re a ringing!

It’s Christmas and try thinking of Christmas without bells.

Whether it s “Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles…” as Julia Andrews sang in the legendary film The Sound of Music, or the ubiquitous “Jingle Bells” song that rings in our ears all the way through Christmas, it’s amazing how Christmas and bells go together.

And yet that’s not all what bells are for!

Traditionally bells were used just to create noise in the dark winter nights to ward off strange animals and metaphorically evil spirits.

Later that graduated into ringing bells as a celebratory sound.

For Christmas, in some churches in the UK, it is traditional that the largest bell in the church is rung four times in the hour before midnight and then at midnight all the bells are rung in celebration. Celebrating the birth of Christ.

And then there's celebrating the joyous union of two souls. At a wedding. More bells. More wedding bells.

And to complete the cycle is what John Donne never fails to remind us of. "Therefore, send not to know/For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee."

The Hindus ring a bell when they enter a temple. Not to wake the Lord. Not because the Divine is busy elsewhere and you need to attract his attention. But because the bell creates that primordial sound of Om. Go deeper into it and there’s a lot to learn – including the metals that the bell is made of, the seven seconds of sound that a ring of the bell creates, resonating through the Chakras and finally the really tangible reason – to wake up our consciousness before we enter the place of worship.

Moving away from the temple of worship to the temple of learning, there was Pavlov and his bell. Pavlov took his bell ringing to an entirely different level with Druzhok, Zolotisty, Sultan, Tygan, Zhuchka and the others. The poor Pavlovian dogs never ever associated the bell with Christmas. Sigh. Or rather woof!

In school, saved by the bell was a memorable classroom situation that most of us have been in. Today, a phone call pretty much does it.

And for years music has paid tribute to the bell.

Today’s young lovers will not get it if they hear what Anita Ward has to say about the bell. But they can well learn. 

And then Abba asked for a ring…

And coming back a full circle to where we began, there is this beautiful hymn, which I discovered has found its origins in H.W.Longfellow’s poem, I heard the bells on Christmas Day.

Enjoy it while you can, because another 5 days and we’ll be ringing out the old and ringing in the new!

And as the hymn says:
Peace on earth, goodwill to men!

Merry Christmas to all!