Filling Up the New Calendar

By Neal Lemery

(published in the Tillamook County Pioneer, 12/28/21

The new calendar on the wall is fresh and clean. So far, there are only a few events are there. It is a fresh start to a new year.

The normal daily routine will return after all the winter holiday events come to an end. Life will soon begin filling up all that empty space. I’ll miss the blissfully quiet winter evenings of the week between Christmas and New Year’s, with shoes off, wrapped in a cozy blanket, with a good book and a cup of holiday tea. With the “to do” pre-holiday list mostly crossed off, I’m free to do what I darn well please, without a pressing agenda. It is a rare week of few expectations.

January and a new year are always filled with great promise and opportunity. I make a few resolutions, knowing that real change is possible, if I truly want to change and grow. I’m the one who gets to write on the calendar. Traditions and agendas are mine to follow, or change. It’s my call.

I can grump and whine about the world and what our lives are like now. Or, I can do something about it. It starts with my attitude and where I decide to put my energy. That’s intention, and I’m in charge of that. I have to want to intend to change what I don’t like, and put myself into action.

When I point a finger at something, three of my fingers point back at me. I have more than a little responsibility for how the next year unfolds for me. When I demand accountability from others, I need to be looking in the mirror, to look at where most of the fingers point.

“Be the change you want to see,” one of my inspiring role models, Mahatma Gandhi, said. I may not be able to change the world, but I can change who I am and how I live. I do have an impact on my little corner of the world. And in that, bigger changes can come. The work starts with me. That thought seems to be a universal truth.

What do I really want to see in 2022? I need to figure that out, before I start to whine and mope about the world’s state of affairs. First, change my attitude, find my intention, then develop my plan for achieving my goals, and fill up the calendar with all of my good, positive actions.

We live in community. Real change, real accomplishment only happens when there is a group that is engaged in that good work. Then there is engagement, ownership, and collective, community-focused achievement. Success comes from a collective effort, and is a community project, the energy coming from each of our individual intentions and acts, doing the work together.

One of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s favorite Zulu proverbs was Ubuntu. “One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu — the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness … We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

I need to put more of his wisdom and determination to better society, and that spirit of Ubuntu, into my life and the life of our community.

The nearly empty calendar stares back at me, offering a challenge. I see opportunity and a challenge to move ahead in my life, and thereby change myself, my community, and the world, making it a more beautiful and creative place. There’s work to be done.

What’s on your calendar?

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