1 – I will indulge myself, and I will encourage others to indulge themselves, in the gatherings and the graces and the lasting gifts of life: meals shared with those we treasure, love expressed as often as possible, an abiding focus on what makes for justice and goodness for all, walking as humbly as we can, day by day, knowing that God wants us, all of us, all of God’s children, to enjoy life to the hilt.
2 – I will give it all, and I will give it now. I will not hoard or save – for a later time or a better date – any compliment, poem, idea, notion, support for a worthy cause, any laugh, any hug when hugs are wanted and needed.* I will eagerly seek out and be open to the insights and gracings of others. I will rise to the challenging question: Why should any one of us be lost if someone else knows the way? **
3 – I will spend what I don’t have, that is, that which I so much enjoy and treasure but of which I can never claim sole ownership. I will share God’s love that comes to us all freely and generously, a gift never to be possessed solely by any one person but is a universal spiritual currency.
4 – I will let my heart be broken – broken open to a world in need of caring and hope. I am not an automaton but a human being, and so I will maintain a bruisable heart, a vulnerable center of my personality, a capacity to be affected by the world and all of its inhabitants.
5 – I will attend to the needs of children, never failing, so far as I can help it, to receive happily a greeting from any child and then return it with enthusiastic appreciation. I will remember that all children – in this city or any other – are “our” children.
6 – I will forego violence in my actions, in my verbal exchanges with others, and, of equal importance, in my assumptions and my attitudes toward what the world brings to my door, even if what it brings is chock‑full of violence.
7 – I will nurture and care for three specific bodies – my own, for it is the only vehicle I have for negotiating life through this world; the body of the earth, which is the carrier vehicle for the entire human race; and the body of my neighborhood where I live, for it needs my efforts, my prayers, my support, if we are going to be hale, hearty, and healthy as witnesses for good in the community and in the world.
8 – I will smile at the world as often as I possibly can, sometimes through clenched teeth, to be sure, but still knowing that negativity never has worked and only a glad heart can live a fulfilled life.
9 – I will take in as many movies as I can and listen to as much music as I can and behold as much visual art as I can and witness as many performances as I can and read as many books as I can, for the splendors of human creativity are sheer gifts and glimpses of the divine.
10 – I will be as truly human and humane and alive as I can muster and live my days with attention and engagement and not simply visit this world. As Mary Oliver puts it succinctly, about this year or any other:
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.***
* See Annie Dillard’s Give It All, Give It Now: One of the Few Things I Know About Writing (New York: Welcome Books, 2009).
** See Samuel Green’s poem “Postcard:10/18/01, NY,” The Only Time We Have: New Poems (Sedro‑Woolley: Grey Spider Press, 2002), p. 37, which is also included as “Oct. 18 New York City,” in The Grace of Necessity (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2008).
*** Mary Oliver, “When Death Comes,” New and Selected Poems (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992), p. 11.
© 2015, Robert Lee Hill
[From LIFE’S TOO SHORT FOR ANYTHING BUT LOVE (Woodneath Press, 2015)]