New Year's Eve Reflections: About 14 years ago a spry woman quietly moved out of a two-story brick house across the street from my church. The lawn was always impeccably cared for with a splash of colorful petals in the flower beds by the front door. The woman was 93 when she moved out and into a nearby retirement village. But she didn't stop there. She kept on singing for almost 15 more years. This past week Helen Gerber Ramsdell passed away at age 107. She was still teaching voice lessons up until the end. At age 107! My own brother was one of her students back in the 80s.
We are often admonished to live our lives as if each day were our last. And there's nothing wrong with that advice. But sometimes I wonder if the opposite might not be helpful also? What if we lived each day like we were going to live to be 107? Would we do anything differently? My delightful grandmother will turn 90 in March. She still gets around with the aid of a walker, but her world has slowly been shrinking as she succumbs to the frailties of age. But might she have done something differently even 5 years ago had she known she was going to make it t0 90? Perhaps improved her diet or walked around the block a time or two for exercise? Knowing my grandmother, probably not:) She lives on her own terms and its gotten her to 90, farther than most. But, still, it's an interesting intellectual exercise to apply the question to your own life.
Life is a complex tapestry of unpredictability. Perhaps I'm naive but I believe the majority of people try their best and simply want to live good,decent lives. Some - I would venture to say most of us at one time or another - stumble along the way, but most of us just want a world of goodness and kindness. Probably part of life's inherent beauty is its fleetingness, yet it's that very brevity which is also the source of so much sadness.
So perhaps the key to happiness isn't to live each day like it is your last or to focus on being 107 but to simply savor the precious present one step at a time. And that's why New Year's Eves are important. They provide - no matter how imperfectly - a landing on the staircase, a place to pause, to catch your breath and look down at how far you've come and to look up at where you've got to go.
Resolutions are road-map to show us how to get to where we want to go. But why are resolutions so difficult to stick to? I know I shouldn't guzzle three cans of soda a day. So why do I? I know I should be more organized and efficient, so why does my desk still look like a grenade exploded on it? If we know something is harmful for us, why do we do it anyway? My brother sent me a good article on resolutions. A lot of it is common sense, but maybe it'll be just enough to light a spark in someone. So with one eye on 107 and the other one where I've come from, I'm just going to try to take 2015 one step at a time and maybe by the end of the year I will have risen to another level. A Happy New Year to all and good luck to you on your personal journey in 2015!