I just do not believe you can will life into being positive. These annoying notions of manifesting and declaring a word and your life this year will be… glorious, happy, joyful. It’s complete nonsense. It has never worked for anyone I know, ever.
Life exists one way for all of us: on its own terms.
There is no such thing as deciding how a year will unfold. There is only deciding how you will respond to the events that occur. And of course, it would be insane to decide to respond “joyfully” to all things.
What if your child falls ill, or you break a bone and are unable to work, or your favorite relative dies? You can not will yourself out of a cancer diagnosis. You do not decide if your company shuts down. Are you really expecting yourself to respond joyfully to those things? Isn’t that insanity? Or worse dissociation and delusion?
I’d rather live in the real world. Where I realize that life will be whatever the forces outside of me decide it will be. I am going to try to accept that I am not in charge of any of it. I am not all-powerful. I do not get to choose if my children are pleasant, or cross. I can’t decide if my husband’s work is happy, and plentiful, or difficult, and lacking. Therefore, I also don’t decide what mood he comes home in. I am barely in charge of my own course schedule. My body, I’m sort of in charge of it, in so far as I decide to move it for health, and feed it for health, or give it water, and sleep. But I’m not quite in charge of whether, or not my body decides to hurt, to let me sleep, and how it responds to my efforts.
As I have committed to my yoga journey this fall I’ve had to try to listen to my body for perhaps the first time. In the beginning, I didn’t understand why it didn’t immediately start improving in flexibility. After all, I was giving my body the necessary movement to improve. That’s when I was taught that yoga was about accepting what already is, not trying to change it. I have little tolerance for accepting deficiencies. I most always want to work on changing them, eliminating them, improving them. Accepting them feels like failure, resignation, giving up.
However, life is much the same. We can accept the things we are dealt or we can relentlessly struggle against them. The cards we are dealt: trauma, abuse, illness, premature death, divorce, rebellious children, financial lack, or higher education, professional opportunity, intact families, and financial excess, will not change. The only thing that does change is our response to them. Our unceasing struggle to plan ourselves out of danger, to work our loved ones into a secure, happy, insulated place is a palace in the sky, a fallacy. It cannot happen, it will not happen. No amount of expended energy will change this.
The best we can hope for, or work toward, is the acceptance of what is right this moment. We can be conduits of peace and love. We can be honorable, and take care of our responsibilities. But we will not change our stars, or fates. We will not add a day, or hour of life to anyone we know, not even ourselves. We can choose how pleasurable we are to be around for each of those hours. We can choose if we are real in our moments with others, or false, masked, distant. We can choose vulnerability, bravery, and freedom, or not. Those are our choices. What kind of year unfolds for us, that is not in our hands.