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January 8, 2009

New Year Wisdom

Patricia A. Kelly

It’s a New Year again. For me, that’s always time to reflect. There is so much wisdom in the world, and so much idiocy. This time, at the beginning, I’d like to focus on the wisdom.


First, and one of my personal favorites, the seventh of the “advices” of Mawlana Jalaleddin Rumi, the renowned Sufi poet, who said, “Either exist as you are, or be as you look.”


I’m delighted to hear that our incoming president plans to eliminate earmarks from upcoming bailout legislation. We can only hope that this is a step in the direction of transparency in government.


From Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” So often, I hear that change is impossible. “The past will be repeating itself for the rest of our lives, and beyond.”


I’m quite sure Martin Luther King, Jr., didn’t buy that or even Picabo Street. I wonder what it would be like if the rest of us stopped believing it, and stepped up to the plate, each of us, even in the smallest possible way.


From Churchill: “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”


To me that special moment would include not only the big one coming for Barack Obama, but the moment of taking marriage vows, the first sight of one’s newborn child, the first day of high school.


I sometimes collect photos of people in their special moments.


I’m looking now at a photo of a Baltimore woman, Jill Jenkins, as she covers and protects with her body a young boy whom she suspects of murdering her son Maurice, who was shot to death while sitting on a porch in his neighborhood.


Talk about a finest moment….


I also collect obituaries, and write my own occasionally, with the plan of living into it. One of my favorites is that of a Frederick woman who found true happiness when she married the love of her life at the age of 63. It seems she spent that marriage dancing.


Another Frederick woman is described as having lifelong joyous dedication to musical instruction. She, with humor and self deprecation, extolled self-development, uncompromising honesty, clarity of speech, frugality and self-discipline. She was beautiful, too.


Regarding another, I’m sure, very special woman, the obituary states: “Her thorough enjoyment of her time on Earth touched all of those who knew and loved her.”


I’d like to see that written in mine.


I think, in political terms, we’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot in the past year. We’ve seen self-aggrandizement and greed at their worst. We’ve seen people maligned unfairly, and we’ve seen what government was and was not doing behind closed doors. We’ve seen the worst of the news media.


I hope we’ve learned something big this time, or else.


When all is said and done, things are up to us. We are “the one.”  We can monitor government, give a hot meal to a sick friend, clean the neighbor’s sidewalk, behave with integrity and honor. What we do is what makes the difference.


“No one who does good work will ever come to a bad end, either here or in the world to come. When such people die, they go to other realms where the righteous live. They dwell there for countless years and then are reborn into a home which is pure and prosperous.” Bhagavad Gita 6:40-42


No matter how you phrase them, they’re exciting thoughts for a cold and rainy January day.


Happy New Year. Let’s make the most of it.


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