The month of January was named for Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He has two faces and can therefore look backward and forward at the same time-just like us. But I’m going to suggest we all do our best to stay in the present. I’m pretty sure that is the best vantage point to allow us to learn from the past and look forward to a future. And looking forward to life and its roller coaster of changing events puts me in a better mood.
Recently someone commented that I maintained an insane insistence on seeing the glass half full. Of course I delighted in interpreting the remark in the most positive light. It doesn’t mean I don’t wallow in the pain and self-pity of grief, loss, disappointment or shame for a moment or two (or in some cases, years and years). We must embrace those emotions as inevitable too, or they skulk around and start to stink. But when they are given their due time, like everything else in this lifetime, they will die out to make room for the new. With the exception of some whacked out brain chemistry that results in clinical depression, dark moods do pass like the weather so why not hunker down, light the fireplace, and observe the storm until it becomes clear, at a deep intuitive level, what our next step must be?
Oh, Cemetery Mary is waxing philosophical on the onset of this New Year. So many global storms these days, what with wars, poverty, global warming, and the economic meltdown. But there are still new days, new babies, new loves, new presidents, and new stories. These things have me looking forward.
The world is obviously going through an important transition, and the old way of doing things is dying out. EVERYONE is going to have to try new ways of being, and these attempts cannot be thwarted by the fear of failure. That’s why it makes sense for us to celebrate in the face of failure. (YAY, the greedy bankers and wall street crooks aren’t the cool kids anymore!) When it’s all good news, our spirits are already lifted. If things are tanking, that’s when we need to treat ourselves with extra care. Failures do not need to beat themselves up (I’m talking honest failures, not the Bernie Madoff types). Instead, we can simply look in the rearview mirror, check out what worked, what didn’t, kick the wall a few times, then have a party to celebrate another lesson learned (even if the party is something we have alone, in a bubble bath, with Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive in the background).
I like Fast Company writer Richard Watson’s idea about how to celebrate failures: “Rather than putting up statues to people who did something that was successful, let’s build a monument to the people who didn’t. Let’s celebrate the lives of people who invented things that didn’t work or tried to do something that was just plain crazy. A monument to the unknown innovator in pursuit of an impossible dream. The people we watch with perverse envy when we are too scared, too self-conscious, or too constrained to fail ourselves. Because without these wonderful people, there would be no progress or success.”
Recently I heard a wise minister explain that that spiritual progress and success is not realized by what we gain in our lives, but instead comes from what we are able to let go. (Think anger, fear, unforgiveness, or attachment to physical and material wealth.)
Happy New Year. Happy New You. I wish you many spectacular failures because I know they are your greatest teachers on the pathway to success. I also wish you the liberating ability to let go of defining your life by your successes or your failures as they have nothing to do with who you are.