2020 was quite a year. No need to rehash.
Now, what will you do with your 2021?
I was reminded more than ever this past year, that to get the life you want, you have to take control and stop making excuses. 2020 forced me to look outside the box and because of that effort 2021 is shaping up to be a great year for work and for my family. Following the mantra that Viktor Frankl based his trauma work on, no matter what happens to us, we always have a choice.
Your choices are everyday. How much time will you spend with family and friends? How much time will you spend on the phone? Will you work out, educate yourself, simplify, make changes, you know, all the normal New Year’s resolution stuff.
But can you make the choices you need without excuses? Can you simply "choose" and follow through?
You don’t really need a new, New Years resolution, you need the commitment to make the choices you already know you need to do, and be willing to suffer for them!
As the author and psychologist, Jordan Peterson, probably said best:
“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
Today, the great actor, Anthony Hopkins, shared a video celebrating 45 years of sobriety. 82, he was full of fire and joy and hope.
His journey to sobriety and faith began with a question that popped into his head, "Do you want to live or die?:
"I want to live," was his answer, and he did.
He also shared the following nuggets of wisdom:
"Hang in there! Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday."
"Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid!"
Before he joined AA and became sober, he was an atheist. But at an AA meeting a woman asked him, “Why don’t you just trust in God?” In that moment, he did, and he has held to his faith ever since.
The band U2’s song, So Cruel, is one of my favorites. A mood of melancholy and lyrics that strike to the heart of the human condition, tragic relationships, and unrequited love. A condition of frailty so apparent today.
One of my favorite lines:
“Desperation is a tender trap
It gets you every time”
So Cruel is about love between a man and a women. But love and passion can exist in other areas. Lately, I’ve seen examples of this in small business owners struggling to survive. Their passion turned to despair. Especially in California where the desperation of shutdowns are now requiring police officers and other officials to confront business owners who won’t comply because their livelihoods are at stake. It is truly heartbreaking.
What you don’t see is the desperate struggle of love and passion that leads to a successful business. The heartbreak of lessons learned from failure. Then some bureaucrat takes it all away while Wal-Mart and Amazon prosper. One example is the Pomp Salon in Stockton, California, it's attempted shut-down by armed officers captured on video.
From Thomas Merton’s book, A Vow of Conversation: Journals 1964-65:
"On the Wednesday I was in New York, it was a lovely morning and at noon I rode down in the taxi to the Guggenheim Museum through the park under the tunnels of light and foliage, with the driver talking about his problems, his nerves, his analysis and his divorce. The more I think about the museum, the more I recognize it as a light, beautiful, airy and intelligent place. And the Van Goghs, wheels of fire, cosmic, rich, full-bodied hones victories over desperation, permanent victory, especially the last light-and-shadow calligraphic impastos."
We overcome despair with cosmic fire!
Here comes baby Jesus folks. It is Christmas eve. Now is a good time to focus a bit before your living room is filled with wrapping paper, empty boxes, and candy wrappers.
Isaiah 7:14 told us of this day, over 700 years before Christ’s birth:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
That's right, today is no ordinary day, tomorrow a savior is born. History is altered, God reveals himself through his son and we are given a pathway to salvation and a revelation of who we can become.
Now act like it! Take a minute to pray quietly, to give thanks, to read from scripture. Include your children and friends, do it at home, and do it in church!
Rejoice, a child will soon be born!
I just saw a trailer for a new Tom Hanks movie, News of the World. It looks awesome. He plays a retired soldier after the Civil War traveling the west who is paid to tell dramatic retellings of the news and current events. Along the way, he meets a young girl who was captured and raised by Indians and after being rescued, is on her way home to family when her party is attacked and she is found by Hanks character, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd.
Some unsavory characters don’t want that to happen, and adventure ensues.
It got me thinking what is wild? And what is civilized?
I have a copy of my picture of my grandma playing in the dirt during the depression. Was she wild? Was she civilized? Her writing was exquisite and her ability to care for her home and family during all times unmatched.
Who did God pick to announce the coming of Christ’s ministry, a wild one, John the Baptist.
God calls us from the wilderness. In the wilderness, we find God.
Yesterday we talked about bad shepherds and then last night congress passed a 5,600 page bill that none of them read. It was no doubt a tasty pork sandwich to donors, lobbyists, and foreign governments that make the families of Senators and Congressman rich. Oh, and $600 each for Americans. I guess that is how much they see small businesses being destroyed and other consequences of government dictates is worth.
But enough of that. Christmas is in 3 days. Let’s talk about Good shepherds. Those that had the honor to be witnesses to the Christ child, invited by a host of angels.
We are being led by false shepherds. We saw a couple of great examples this weekend of what David Mamet warned of Friday, government officials doing stupid things with no accountability.
But there will be a reckoning, and we talk about it today, on The Pilgrim's Odyssey.
The alligator was savory, and the words of David Mamet prophetic.
And we ask the question, "What are the consequences to government, when government is stupid and people die?"
In Shreveport today teaching a class and had lunch at Herby K’s, a seafood joint, and I mean joint, in the best of ways, a classic hole in the wall where nothing changes and the food is awesome. Famous for it’s shrimp Po'boy sandwich, I had fish and shrimp etouffee. I think it sits about 20 people tops and then a patio on the side for the rest. A favorite of the American Pickers, Mike and Frank, it has been around since 1936!
Saw today Dr. Fauci recommended kids don’t come home to see their parents this Christmas. Screw that. (That’s all I say lest I really say what I think.)
Here’s what I would like you to do with your Christmas Holiday:
Remember why we have Christmas in the first place, a child was born. Do it somberly, reading from scripture, no technology anywhere.
Plan your upcoming year. 2020 has obviously been crazy. Take charge, what do you want to accomplish, what things will you stand for?
Build up your faith community. Get stronger, don’t remain divided if you are, keep standing strong if have been.
Remind yourselves that America is and has always been different - land of the free and home of the brave. We have not always lived up to it, but that is who we are. Act that way.
A childhood visit to the George Rogers Clark National Park set my imagination in motion. Life was to be lived on the edge, settling frontiers and taming the wild.
Clark breathed his own breath and lived the life of a trailblazer. He was willing to go in the unknown.
The unknown is scary. A willingness to follow our inner calling can lead to ridicule, scorn and sometimes ruin. But we all die, we don't all live.