As we do every year, nyxie and I spent New Year's Eve at the Zen Centre for its New Year's ceremony. It's a longish ceremony, starting at 8 and going until 12:30 or so with a social get-together following -- we didn't get home until 3 am or so. The ceremony has a bunch of components: a whole bunch of zazen, a shortish jukai (precepts-taking) ceremony, a repentance ceremony, and circumambulations of the centre to drive out the (metaphorical) demons. But the bit that's relevant here is the reading of resolutions.
Everyone attending the ceremony is asked to make a New Year's resolution, and to write it down and put it in a bowl on the main altar, anonymously. Then later in the evening, the bowl is passed around the zendo, and everyone takes out someone else's resolution, reads it to themselves to understand what was written, and then reads it aloud. We're encouraged to write our resolutions in advance but in the past I've just sort of thought about it in passing, and wrote down something when I got there. I can't even remember what I wrote before, except that I'm sure it had something to do with my practice.
Anyhow, this year I wrote a resolution in advance, and as I wrote it I turned it into free verse. This felt like a bit of a stretch for me. I'm not someone who writes free verse, that's other people, rite? Having written and rewritten, I stared at the result for a while, unsure of whether or not to actually go through with making someone else read this (anonymous) resolution. Was I too full of myself? Was there too much fancy and not enough meaning to it? I printed it out and took it with me, but I wasn't sure if I was going to actually use it.
But I got thinking about coffeechica and eyeteeth's comments in the past about not needing permission to do creative things, to write, and so I used it. (And Shelley, the ukulele songstress, drew it from the bowl and read it beautifully!)
And having passed this "Is it good enough for anonymity" test, I'm going to put it out here on the Internet with my name attached to it too:
to live my life wholeheartedly and deeply
to fully engage with whatever it is I choose to do
to accept the narrowing of options that confronts me as I age
but no more than that
to lean into discomfort
to live the full catastrophe
to respond to difficulties with love and compassion
for myself and all beings
to place my faith in this tradition
to take refuge in this practice
and this place
and this family
and to exert myself to discover my true nature.
Happy new year, and may peace prevail on earth!