THE SEASON OF THE NEW YEAR

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Well, it’s finally here. 2014 has arrived, and with the dawning of the New Year our season of holiday comes to an end.  We experience the good energy that comes with a fresh start, with slates wiped clean and meters reset to zero. The chance to do it all again–one more time.

As I reflect on this season that has as it’s book-ends the Winter Solstice and New Years Day, it occurs to me that the holiday season ends very much like it begins.  Whatever your faith tradition, both New Years and the Winter Solstice carry the theme of the season–moving from old to new, from endings to beginnings, from darkness to light.

For thousands of years different cultures and traditions have honored the Solstice with a ceremony which includes building a large fire.  Members of the community would throw objects into the fire which represented something in their past which they wished to cast off and leave behind.  The Solstice ceremony was a way to mark moving forward into a new year, unburdened by some of what had weighed them down in the year before.

While we’re a couple of weeks on the other side of the Solstice, I like the idea of pairing that ceremony with New Year’s resolutions. What would that ceremony look like for you? What things weighed you down last year that you would like to cast off and leave behind? What does that look like when paired with your New Year’s resolutions?

For me, the biggest thing I want to leave behind is fear.

This year I am resolved to live the life that I would love and to no longer waste any part of my life on fear.

Because so much of what we do is a zero sum game, we value winning over losing, victory over defeat.  We are trained to believe that if we can prepare for every contingency and anticipate every eventuality, then we can be successful.  As lawyers, we are hard-wired for perfection and thoroughly indoctrinated with the notion that enough preparation can make us bulletproof.  While this orientation might be helpful in the world of litigation, it is a piss poor way to live your life.

When I am obsessed with winning, I begin to fear losing.  If I am hard-wired for perfection, I am terribly anxious about my imperfections.  If I believe I can make myself bulletproof, I avoid risking any encounter unless I know I won’t be hurt.  The problem is that “perfection” and “bulletproof” don’t exist in the arena we call life.  In life both victory AND defeat are necessary.  In life it’s both our successes AND our failures that make us who we are.

Winning really isn’t important.  Being perfect isn’t important.  Becoming bulletproof isn’t important.  What is important is showing up for my life.

It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;…who at the best know in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….”

—Theodore Roosevelt

This year I want to walk into the arena–be it a relationship, a partner’s meeting, a creative pursuit or a difficult conversation–with the courage and the willingness to engage. This year I want to show up to my life and allow myself to be seen for who I am.

This year I want to dare greatly.


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