The greeter at the door was no different than many I have met in the past. His words were simple and common. With a welcoming smile and a peaceful tone, he enthusiastically said “Hi, come on in!”. So without hesitation I walked in with assurance and confidence. The place was familiar to me. I had visited it fifty eight times before. The surroundings had not changed. Many of the people there I had seen often and some were very close friends. There was certainly a high degree of comfort. Our conversation was filled with stories about the past. The conversations focused on our work, kids, and parents; world events; our dreams and aspirations. But in the midst of all of the chatter and activity, there was constraint. Though somewhat shallow, there was a measureable sense of anxiety. I had entered an unpredictable new year and I was not alone.
Several years ago our family and some friends and their families decided to celebrate the beginning of the new year at the cottage in Rosseau. As midnight came upon us, dressed in our pyjamas and with the outside temperature at minus 15C, we all marched out the back door to say goodbye to the old year and then re-entered through the front door of the cottage to welcome the new year. Out with the old and in with the new, was the timeless tradition.
It is day one of a new year and it begs us to enter with overwhelming temptation and incomparable passion. We cannot resist. There is nothing we can do to stop from walking through its door. We are not visitors, simply touring for enjoyment. We are residents, travelling a road many have travelled before but none of us completely sure right now where it will take us. 2015 greets us with unbridled enthusiasm. There is no description of what may be. We only know of what was and what can be. Sometimes we succumb to an attitude of whatever will be, will be.
As I enter the door to 2015, I do so with great expectations but no certainty of fulfillment. I expect joy not sadness. I expect happiness not sorrow. I expect success not failure. I expect good health not sickness.I have made plans that focus on meeting my expectations. My plans do not include any peril. I do not plan for war or defeat. I do not plan for strife, conflict or disruption. I do not plan for hatred. I do not plan for recession.
There will be the same people, the same surroundings, the same actions, the same behaviours. Not much will be different. There will be the same news of planes crashing, people dying, wars continuing, companies retracting, economies shrinking and leaders falling. Earth will produce its consistent outpouring of floods, drought, hurricanes, fire, and pestilence. It will be all too familiar.
What then will be new about this new year, 2015?
As I enter, I do so with one major change. I will not wear the same attitude as I did the prior year. I will be clothed with a new perspective about life. The only element I can control is my attitude. To develop the right attitude requires proper context. There is really nothing new under the sun as the author of Ecclesiastics has written. Human behavior has been consistently the same since the dawn of creation. We have made significant advances in technology, engineering, technology, medicine, science and architecture. Man’s physical creations are at times a wonder to behold. But man has not been able to stop what hurts it the most. An enduring hatred stumps our development as respectful, caring, loving people of all faiths, cultures, nationalities, backgrounds, color, gender, class and position. As the character Norm on the TV program Cheers once declared when Sam the bartender asked him how he was doing upon entry into the bar, Norm said: “Sam, it’s a dog eat dog world out there and I am wearing milkbone underwear!”
My perspective, my attitude will be based on the words found in the “Serenity Prayer” written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). It says:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking as God did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that God will make all things right
if I surrender to God’s will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with God
forever in the next. Amen.
As we were about to board the bus to join the rest of the group of fifty to take the chair lift to go to the top of the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland and have lunch at the restaurant located there, my friend and colleague Sheik Mohammed, COO of SBG asked me this question: “Merv, do you believe in the Serenity Prayer?” At the top, we looked across the snow covered Swiss Alps. The village of Zermatt was barely visible. At an elevation of approximately 15,000 feet, the majesty of the mountain range dominated our surroundings. Man tried to harness it with buildings, cables and trains but without success. Perspective was immediately given and immediately received. While standing on the top of the world, we realized how small we were. “Yes”, I replied, “I understand, accept and believe the truth the writer provided as he wrote the Serenity Prayer.” Sheik Mohammed and I, though different in many ways and living worlds apart but very much the same in attitude and perspective shared a moment of intense unity together.
There are many things about this world, about people, about life I do not understand nor can I change. But I will not allow those things to defeat me. I will not be discouraged. I will not be disheartened. Rather, as I look ahead to another year, I do so knowing, what I was created to be, and what will be fulfilled in my life if I am determined to make it happen.
Upon hearing the call, “Hi, Come on in”, we should not be afraid to go forward. We should not be hesitant to face new challenges. We should not allow the ignorance of the unknown take control of our mind. We should not allow anyone to close the door to our glorious future. Because, our future, our 2015, is one of promise, of great expectations, and we should, we must plan to live each and every moment it provides with joyous celebration.
We know what 2015 not only can be but what it will be, what it must be!
Happy New Year!
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