Looking ahead

Foundation2There is another excellent thing about the month of January. December is filled with “year in review” thoughts as we all reflect a little on what went well, and not so well, in the past year. January, on the other hand, is all about moving forward. Better habits, new loves and new likes. If we’re lucky, this moving on includes forgiving everyone, including ourselves, for transgressions real and imagined.

My husband, an Irish American, is engrossed in reading a comprehensive history of Ireland. This is kind of my fault, because Ireland will be a prominent part of my novel d4, due to be published in the fall of 2014. I am about a quarter of the way into writing it, and I was hoping to use a few tidbits from his research in my story. What the research has accomplished instead is to reignite his fury at the mistreatment that the Irish endured at the hands of the British.

hippiepeace1“An awful lot of people have been horribly mistreated in this world,” I say. “Not like this. Not for this long.” he corrects me. I disagree, but say no more. I have ancestors on both sides of this equation. I feel for the abused. I do not condone the abuse. I too hurt for horrible wrongs inflicted in Cambodia, Rwanda, Ireland, Kiribati and Belize. Tales of suffering needlessly at the hands of others fill our collective history, and that is a very sad thing.

Light Within 3But I also firmly believe that individuals, societies and countries need to forgive, let go, and move on. Perpetuating a legacy of revenge and hatred, particularly against the descendant of those who wronged our ancestors, only adds to the sum total of hate and misery in the world. It accomplishes nothing more. This  is partly why I wrote z2, and why d4 will pick up this theme again.

January is all about moving forward. It’s an important concept, even when we don’t know exactly where it is we are going.

(Please like the Facebook pages of Foundation for a Better Life,  Hippie Peace Freaks and The Light Within and thanks to them for sharing the witty and wise displays shown here.)

For some fun with New Year’s resolutions please visit my x0 blog here. For my genuine new year’s wish for you, please visit my y1 blog here.

Check your pulse

pulseI was putting on a piece of jewelry yesterday when it reminded me of something my husband did nine years ago that angered me. Almost nine years to the day, in fact, and I know this because the events are tied into my birthday so the timing is unfortunately easy to remember.

Click here to like the Dalai Lama

Click here to like the Dalai Lama

Nine years, I think. That’s too long a time to stay mad. Certainly about one of those bits of behavior that any girlfriend would shake her head at and agree I can’t believe he did that, but which, in the grand scheme of truly awful things that humans do to each other, was pretty insignificant. I remember reading somewhere that human cells replace themselves at a rate such that every seven years we are made up of completely new material. What a wonderful concept. I realize that my husband is not the same man he was nine years ago, literally, and therefore it’s about time that he should be forgiven for inconsiderate behavior.

As I apply a little make-up to a face that is not the face it was nine years ago, I take this a little further. We do all change, albeit slowly. What if you could only be held liable for wrongdoing committed over the last eight years? I mean, what if society really accepted that as truth? How much personal guilt would be washed away? How much would forgiveness change families and friendships? Hell, how different would our world be if our penal system was designed around this belief?

Click to like Hippie Peace Freaks

Click to like Hippie Peace Freaks

Everyone would be totally liable for their recent behavior, no excuses. But eight year old behavior? No, that was another person, long ago and far away. You can’t even remember what they were thinking. As I start the daily fight between my hair and the hair straightener, I am warming to this new approach to life, to this idea of a total reboot after eight years.

Then I make the mistake of getting on the internet, to verify my new found insights. Damn. Guess what? The seven year cell replacement story isn’t true at all, as this online naturalist and several of his friends are all happy to explain. Some parts of your body grow new cells at an amazing rate, and some don’t. Your colon, for example, is all shiny and new. Your brain? Not so much so. The neurons in your cerebral cortex are yours for life.

Seriously. The Dalai Lama deserves a like.

Seriously. The Dalai Lama deserves a like.

Maybe this physical fact doesn’t negate the wisdom of the original insight, I think. Those neurons may be there from birth, but the heart, mind and soul that they feed with information is a work in progress. That is one of the beautiful things about life. We change, we grow, we hopefully improve. Forgiving ourselves and others lets us move on, lets us move forward in time. We we can chose to embrace this progress without regard to how fast our body replaces our cells.

I had the good fortune to be born around the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful confluence, because each time I face another year on this earth, I am reminded to be grateful for all that the past years have brought me. This year, I’ve decided that I’m not going to be grateful for the past. This year, I’m concentrating on gratitude for the future, and for all the hope that the very concept of change brings.