Friday, January 1, 2010

Wonderless or Wonderful???

Several people have called today to wish me a happy new year. As might be expected, they also inquired as to how I spent New Year’s Eve. What did I do to usher in 2010? I can say, without regret, that we had a quiet and wonderful night at home. I had tentative plans for a really big bottle of white zinfandel that my friends who love me (and know me too well) gave me for my birthday, but it is still in the refrigerator – unopened.

So what did I do? Weber, Brooke and I were the only ones home. I made turkey jambalaya with the last remaining bits of smoked turkey from Christmas. Weber and I ate that. Brooke made pasta with edemame pesto and a hazelnut pound cake. I had a slice of the four layer chocolate cake that my friends who love and know me so well also gave me for my birthday. After this wondrous feast, I sat down at the computer and logged on to pay my Christmas shopping credit card bill that is not even due for twenty eight days. What better way to start 2010 than debt free! As the ball fell in Times Square, we were all sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee, in much the same way we do every night. As you read this, I’m sure you are thinking how could that possibly have been a wonderful night!!!

This morning I read the following in a book of daily meditations: “Wonderful things are especially wonderful the first time they happen, but their wonderfulness wanes with repetition.” No one will argue that there is probably some truth in this statement. Why is this? Why do things, or events, or even people that we perceived as awesome when we first encountered them lose their appeal over time? Do they really change? Or, do we become bored? Do we have unrealistic expectations?

I suspect that in most cases our expectations play a much bigger part in the perception and outcome of a situation than does reality itself. This is the crux of the question of whether you see the glass as half empty or half full. The reality here is that there exists a glass that contains half of its potential volume. Our perception as to whether it is half empty or half full carries with it all of the meaning of the situation as we perceive it. Describing the glass as half empty implies that the contents of the glass are diminishing. Following that current trend will eventually lead to a completely empty glass - a standard that most would consider to be a negative outcome. On the contrary, half full implies an upward trend toward fullness and thus a positive outcome. It is repeated encounters with the glass that confirm whether the glass was initially half empty or half full.

Our own perception also determines whether the statement above is true. Many things are wonderful the first time. Last year, Weber and I spent our first New Year’s Eve together. We attended a black tie affair with an open bar, a catered meal, and a live DJ. This year we sat at the kitchen table in our blue jeans drinking coffee with one crazy friend. Though very different than New Year’s Eve last year, this year was equally as wonderful. It would have been easy to say at this time last year that it doesn’t get any better than New Year’s Eve 2008. Doing so would have been admitting that our glass was half empty, that we had already experienced the best of the best. It’s not and we didn’t. I have no idea how we will spend future New Year’s Eves, but I have to believe that each, as it gives us memories of times past and hopes for times yet to come, will be at least as wonder-full as the last. Perhaps one that is wonder-fuller will even come along. As long as I am able to live in the present, to see and celebrate the simple, and to embrace the beauty of the sacred in the mundane, I will never cease to experience awe and wonder. Every day is a new day. Every smile is a new smile. Every cup of coffee is a new cup of coffee. Each brings with it the possibility to be awestruck and wonder-filled.

My wish is that we can all move into the new year with open eyes, open minds, and open hearts so that wonder will never cease to be.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Though this picture was taken on the streets of Assisi, Italy last March, the sentiment expressed is fitting as we begin a new year. We wish you and your loved ones, "Peace and all good" in the coming year.