2016: The Year of No

And bidding 2015 a fond “GTFO!”

I don’t know about you, but I was glad to bid 2015 a fond “GTFO!” Mind you, I’m thrilled to have witnessed all of 2015, but still . . . despite its blessings, 2015 left a lot to be desired.

In just about all situations, I try to be an agreeable guy and say “yes” to most things as often as I can, especially if they don’t involve pit bulls or babysitting. But looking back, during this last trip around the sun, I said yes to too many things I shouldn’t have. And in doing so my “yes” lost its potency.

But this year’s going to be different. Radically different. This year it’s all about the no.

2016 will be “The Year of No.”

I’m saying no to procrastination. Why not put off till tomorrow what I can do today? How about because tomorrow’s not guaranteed. Within the past year, a number of friends have died. Several of them were younger than me. That doesn’t mean I think death is lurking around every corner; but it does mean that if there are things I want to do with and say to people, I’d better get on it, and start being the change for the better I’d like to see in others.

No thanks to self-centeredness. (This so classic me, it’s not even funny.) Just two days ago, I had coffee with a friend and I shared my frustrations about how a situation I hoped would work in my favor had not and verbalized my resentment at the person who dared deny me my deserved prize. Once my fangs retracted and I stopped foaming at the mouth, my friend shared his insight into the situation and I instantly realized that the reason the situation worked out the way it did had nothing to do with me at all. All my hand-wringing and disgruntled mumblings were of my own making. And for no valid reason. Once again, it wasn’t all about me.

No to following someone else’s dream. This seems to be a recurring lesson in my life that I doubt I’ll ever fully grasp because at the moment I think “I got it,” I get dragged to a whole new level for remediation. Case in point: a few years ago, a friend suggest that I follow x pursuit. X was never on my mind, x never even crossed my mind. And oddly enough, x’s orbit and my orbit overlapped. And I guess x’s gravitational pull was so great that all of a sudden I found myself trying to pursue my friend’s dream of x for me. And after I put all my effort into pursuing x, and x evaporated, it was then I realized that I was never supposed to have anything to do with x in the first place.

No to dimming this little light of mine. There’s this one passage from the late Brennan Manning’s book, Reflections for Ragamuffins, that has always stuck with me. (I guess it hasn’t stuck me too well, otherwise it’d be ingrained on my brain.) It says the following —

” . . . the spiritual life might be defined as the development of personality in the realm of faith and grace. My Christian personality is not just a vegetative existence; I am a unique and radiant center of personal thought and feeling. Rather than living a routine existence in mere conformity with the crowd, the emerging child reminds me I have a face of my own, gives me the courage to be myself, protects me against being like everybody else, and calls forth that living, vibrant, magnificent image of Jesus Christ that is within me waiting only to unfold and be expressed.”

To me, that passage applies to my writing, my art, my living life, and my loving people the way God would have me love them—without limits or conditions—the same way some rather awesome people have loved me. Just so you know, I’d like to say, “oh, I’ve got the whole ‘without limits or conditions’ thing mastered,” but that’d be untrue. If you ever saw me before my first cappuccino of the day, you’d know I need a lot of work in that area. And many others.

What it all comes down to is this: there’s no one else like me. I’ve got to remember to embrace all that I am and strive to become all that God’s created me to be and share that with people. With no shame, and no apology.

No kidding. I mean it. =)

Originally published at clayrivers.wordpress.com on January 8, 2016.