by Jerry Casagrande
As with the arrival of any year, the birth of 2022 is inspiring many of us to make New Year’s resolutions. As Mark Twain said about the week ahead of us: “Now is the accepted time to make your annual good resolutions. Next week, you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
2022 will of course bring its own unique challenges for human planning. (Perhaps you’ve heard of COVID?) More than once this past week, I’ve been reminded of the words, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him/Her your plans.” COVID has indeed made a mockery of human planning.
Today, I’d like to suggest another possible resolution. That is, resolve to pay attention.
What do I mean by that? I could resolve to pay attention to the news, to the ways that our social fabric is either strengthening or unraveling on any given day, to how the stock market is doing, or to the latest Covid numbers.
What I mean is both less, and more, than any of those things.
I resolve to pay attention to what is happening here and now.
In this first snowfall, I hear the quiet. I see in a new way the trees, the storefronts, and the riverbank, each covered in soft white. I literally feel the cold on my fingertips, not just in the air around me, but in my hand as I pack a snowball. I taste the cold on the tip of my tongue as a unique flake lands there.
This snowfall has an uncanny ability to pull me into the present to see, touch, taste, and hear the winter.
The first snowfall makes me pay attention. If only I can take its effect on me into other parts of my life and other times of the year, I’ll be better off for it. Even now, as I sit inside to write, I am more aware of the whirring of the heating system, the knotty grain of the wood desk at which I sit, the taste of saliva in my mouth, the way my reading glasses touch my nose, and the light smack of each finger on these k-e-y-s.
That is what I mean by paying attention to the inside of me. And you to the inside of you.
If we can take greater note of these things happening in our bodies–our thoughts and feelings –- well, then what?
What if, once we have paid attention to what is going on inside us, we resolve to share some of it? To share our aspirations and our joys; our hopes and passions; and even some of the harder stuff –- our sadness, our fears, our disappointments, our anger.
Winston Churchill said “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak.”
Speaking up is not easy. Resolving to share your inner life –- both the good and the bad –- may well be the hardest resolution you’ve ever made –- harder than learning guitar, going to the gym, and eating well combined. But you can do it. We can do it. Consider setting the bar low this January: share with one person, one time. That’s a start.
Churchill went on. The full quote from him is: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
Gratitude & Humility
Why do all this? In part, it might be because that is what life is all about–-being present for and sharing ourselves with others and with the world around us.
But if you need more reason than that, (and Entrepreneur Magazine backs this up) then know that paying attention to and sharing our inner life can bring us to a place of gratitude for our present moment and our present circumstances, whatever they may be. Realizing the challenges you’ve faced and how you have overcome them; or, not yet overcome them, but begun to address them –- that realization can help you cultivate gratitude for the current moment and a sense of humility. Humility in recognizing it all could have gone another, worse way. But it didn’t.
Similarly, speaking aloud your hopes and aspirations can bring you to a place of appreciation for all you have. An appreciation that your hopes and dreams are even plausible. Gratitude flows from there.
So, please, if you wish, get to the gym, drop ten lbs, learn Stairway and read Ulysses. (Tell me what all the fuss is when you finish.)
As for me, I’ll use the inspiration of this snowy day to resolve to pay attention throughout the year –- to the things around me, to the person across from me, to the feelings in me. I hope you’ll join me.
Wishing you a 2022 that captures your attention.
Our blogs are written by Jerry Casagrande and Scott Taylor, Co-Founders of Cairn & Sky. We are also interested in hearing your voice. If you have a topic you'd like to share with the Cairn & Sky community, please reach out to email@example.com and let us know. We'd love to hear the idea and then maybe share it with the world right here.