New Year’s Resolute Solution

New Year’s was a noisy affair. It’s a blunt instrument. So much talking, and so much telling.

“Happy New Year!” In the last few days I have found myself offering this time-honoured greeting to one and all. I messaged it to family and friends; I shook hands earnestly with church people; it seemed to be an essential component in every phone call. I felt oddly compelled to speak those thee small words! Have you ever stopped to wonder just what they mean?

The New Year’s experience I found most unsettling wasn’t the reveling throngs or the fireworks, or even the chirpy television presenters with nothing to say (has our culture completley lost the ability to express anything of substance?). It wasn’t the stream of New Year’s greetings from celebrities, news anchors, politicians and anybody else with something to sell. What I couldn’t easily deal with was the barage of New Year’s greetings that came by SMS, Facebook, Twitter, and email. The standard New Year’s greeting that I recieved runs something like this:

“Happy New Year!!! May your day be full of fun and may 2010 be an awesome year of prosperity and success.”

I feel like a contortionist in a box when I contemplate that version of the future. With the best of intentions we all tell each other in absolute terms what we hope for, the good things that will happen, and how astonishingly different the future will be. Of course we wish each other well, but a little thought reveals how superficial and implausable those wishes will be for many of us.

Every 12 weeks I have a somewhat alarming medical appointment. It begins with a technician inviting me to repeatedly exhale as fast and long as possible into a machine. Oddly enough I enjoy the test itself, it’s a challenge that I rise to with an unusual capacity, because I hapen to have spectacularly large lungs. I assume that this is a simple correlation with my spectacular height. Helped perhaps by years of woodwind practice, I don’t remember ever loosing a breath-holding contest: I can still crack 2 minutes! The frightening part of the test follows in the Professor’s office where I hear the outcome. Each time I take the test the result is a loss of about 5% of something known ominously as ‘Forced Vital Capacity’. I have consciously avoided doing the actual maths, but it seems evident that there are only so many times that you can take 5 away from 100. I’m sure it’s not quite that simple, but you get the general drift. I think I have a reasonably positive outlook on life, but this day that comes around with each season of the year knocks the wind out of me every time. There’s something cold and uncompromising about reducing health to a single number, and on this day my ability to view the future with faith and hope is most tested. I have one of these appointments coming up in a fortnight; just one of the many challenges the New Year will bring!

Another New Year is dawning for all of us, and I refuse to give lip service to vague sentiments about how ‘happy’ 2010 will be. I need far more than that to negotiate the path chosen for me; and I suspect I am not alone.

I am learning something liberating: the strength I need to face the demands of the year ahead doesn’t come through talking, but through listening. Each time someone tells me to be happy I feel a tiny reporach, a small wound of some sort, just like a pin prick. But when I find a moment of silence, peace and joy are almost always close at hand. My anxiety is never eased by talk or noise, it’s merely covered up. Speaking only for myself, the Solution is Silence. It’s when I shut up and listen that I discover an undeniable reassurance in my own spirit. It’s as though everything I need to know is hidden there within me. And mostly all I know is that all is well.

When we tell we may wound; when we listen we are healed. When we are telling we are often taking, and conversley it’s when we listen that we are giving a great gift. For the first time in my life I am becoming unafraid of silence in conversation.

My New Year’s resolute solution is to listen. To people, to my own heart, to nature, to God.

2 Responses to “New Year’s Resolute Solution”


  1. 1 Deb Gould January 10, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks again Roderick for sharing your heart & soul with us. Your thoughts are so true & captivate our hearts with your special essence of humour!!!Love Deb & Neil

  2. 2 Sue January 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I am enjoying listening to you Rod, thankyou
    I love what Mary so graciously did “She pondered these things in her heart”


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