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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Just for Today

As the new year begins, I have been giving some thought to how I want to live my life in 2010, and I have decided on some guiding principles. There is nothing new about these principles, as others also have written about their importance in their lives. So I have decided to try my best to live life in 2010 with mindfulness of simplicity, gratitude and peace.

Actually, two of these principles aren't new to me. In 2009, I compiled a list of 100 items for which I am grateful. And with a major move coming up in a few months, I have been trying to simplify my life by getting rid of extraneous 'stuff' from my house. Just last night I posted my last 35mm film camera and a nice oak entertainment unit on freecycle.org. Both items now have new homes. I have been cleaning out drawers in my file cabinet and searching for other ways to simplify and declutter my life. I have donated countless bags of books, clothing and household items. But I'm not through yet. There is still too much clutter in my life and in my home.

All this is not to say that I plan to live as a monk. I still have a big-screen television, three digital cameras, a BlackBerry and high-speed Internet service. But I am trying to rid my home of things I no longer use, including a balalaika I never learned to play, and a 1933 Philco console radio. I also have been trying to find a new home for a wonderful collection of a dozen or so bronze whales, pieces of art that I no longer enjoy.

Gratitude is a bit of a struggle at this moment, as I am continuing to battle a cold, although I am grateful that I don't feel terribly bad, the sun is shining, and I have started running again after a 6-week break. And I was pleased to note that I started 2010 11 pounds lighter and a size smaller than I began 2009.

I recently bought an inexpensive ring that was mounted on a card that said "Simplicity." The ring is in the shape of a leaf, and it has many of the same colors as one of my Native American-made rings. So of course I had to buy it, to serve as a reminder to simplify my life whenever and wherever possible.

Neither conscious gratitude nor simplicity come easily to me. It took a great deal of work and thought to complete the 100-item gratitude list. Simplicity, too, takes a lot of effort. Purging oneself and one's home of 'things' isn't easy.

The greatest challenge for me in 2010 will be to live at peace -- at peace with myself, at peace with the world and at peace in the midst of the chaos that sometimes swirls around me. Living at peace and raising a teenager seem to be antithetical. But so far, three days into 2010, I have been successful. I have yet to be angry or upset about anything.

The best I can do is to pledge to take this endeavor one day at a time. As Ann Landers wrote in her column many years ago,

"Just for Today

Just for today I will live through the next 12 hours and not tackle my whole life's problems at once.

Just for today I will improve my mind. I will learn something useful. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

Just for today I will be agreeable, I will look my best, speak in a well-modulated voice, be courteous and considerate.

Just for today I will not find fault with friend, relative or colleague. I will not try to change or improve anyone but myself.

Just for today I will have a program. I might not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two enemies — hurry and indecision.

Just for today I will exercise my character in three ways. I will do a good turn and keep it a secret. If anyone finds out, it won't count.

Just for today I will do two things I don't want to do, just for exercise.

Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially will I be unafraid to enjoy what is beautiful and believe that as I give to the world, the world will give to me."

Those are my goals for 2010: to live in gratitude, to simplify my life, and to be at peace...just for today.