Well 2019 has arrived. I have to say I saw it coming. Does that mean it’s time for a few resolutions? The problem with most of my ‘resolutions’ is that they are really ‘re-solutions’, repeating familiar strategies for dealing with circumstances that didn’t work all that well in the past.
So I would like to avoid this kind of doubling down on strategies that have brought me limited benefit in the past.
Instead of making a statement about how I should behave and the values I want to exemplify, I’d like to welcome this visitor from the cloud banks of future time (which, if I’m lucky, will be the full complement of 365 days) and let it do the talking. I’d like to let the future announce its presence, since it is the future that holds time’s undisclosed potential.
The future shouldn’t have to prove its credentials as the source of all I hope for, especially since, in the present, I may not even know what I hope for. One example of the future’s qualification to bring to pass benefits I didn’t yet know I was missing arose in the mid 1980’s.
Not long after my first wife and I separated, soon to divorce–during that transitional time when I didn’t really know whom among the connections I had as part of a married couple would remain in my now solitary orbit–I found myself standing on a street corner.
I was standing with a woman who—in the inscrutable ways of the future–did not remain in my orbit after that meeting. The reason may have been because–like my psychiatrist ex-wife–she was in the medical profession and probably knew us in that professional context. But just before we said “Good bye and Good luck”, she made a gesture that gave no hint of being momentous. She pulled out a slim volume with a yellow cover and a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on the front, held it out to me, and said, “This isn’t my kind of thing, but it reminds me of how you talk.”
I don’t remember why we were standing on a street corner: whether we had arranged to meet and that was why, in anticipation of meeting the man who talked like that book, she had it with her; or whether she just happened to have it with her when we just happened to run into one another on the street.
But it was the future that was standing on that street at that moment; a future that may already have known that this book was about to provide the cornerstone for an entire shift in how I lived my life. I didn’t know it then, and that is the wonderful thing about knowing: I don’t have to know what is about to happen in order for new knowledge to flow into my life. That book, “Skillful Means”– a book by Tarthang Tulku, about the opportunities that exist in work even if we consider work a bitter necessity–came into my life in the wake of a failed marriage and opened a door into a future that I had no idea was standing right next to me.
So for 2019, I wish for something similar for all of us: that we be open to the unpremeditated, so that it may then blossom into the energy of hope and the unfurling of unsuspected opportunity.