Recalled By Life: A New Year’s Resolution

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[On 2010] 

“I came upon a child of God, he was walking along the road And I asked him, tell me, where are you going and this he told me…
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year-old carbon. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”-- Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock”
Like a billion other New Year’s Eve partygoers, I exhibited an irrational exuberance when the ball dropped at the stroke of midnight,
as if I’d just lost my cotton-pickin’ mind.

But that tsunami of euphoria soon subsided, and I found myself feeling a little empty and searching for a deeper, more spiritual significance of the annual ritual.
I wondered whether the turning of the proverbial page from 2009 to 2010 alone was really worthy of such elation in and of itself.

After all, what is a year, anyway, beyond a handy way of keeping track of footprints in the sand of time? Some of my fellow revelers seized on the occasion to recite their resolutions, generally a mundane list reflecting some rather shallow, selfish and materialistic goals.

Sadly, the dreamweavers of Madison Avenue seem to have manipulated most of humanity away from that which actually satiates the soul’s thirst and replaced it with a never-ending discontent reflected in an unsettled sense that the key to happiness and fulfillment rests in being able to afford the trendiest designer clothes, that state-of-the-art gadget, this luxury automobile or that garish McMansion.

I am fortunate to no longer be susceptible to such Machiavellian marketing influences, having successfully excised that acquisitive instinct subtly whetted in me during childhood by a media-saturated milieu marked by the ubiquity of commercial advertisements aimed at making one feel inadequate and incomplete. Consequently, I am hopelessly behind the times in terms of fashion and space age accoutrements, as I still don’t own a cell phone or an iPod, and have no idea what might be the latest styles.

I also didn’t buy anyone any Christmas gifts this year, because my definition of the Christmas spirit emanates from a different understanding of Jesus’ teachings. I now firmly believe that when you find yourself obsessing about owning any possession, or with keeping up with the Joneses in any way, most likely the true desire is for more of God.

I’m not suggesting that people necessarily need more formalized religion. For more often than not, that merely leads to more of the same, especially if approached with an uncorrected consumer mentality, as implied by the skeptics’ refrain, “The closer to Church, the further from God.”

Since the passing of both of my parents in recent years, I spend a great deal of time in solitude, especially walking in the woods. I guess nature serves for me as that place where I am best able to recalibrate my spirit and tune in to the essence of what really matters most. Only away from the over-stimulation of the incessant, 21st Century electronic assault do I find myself recalled by life.

But wherever you are, it is possible to shed the shell of conspicuous consumption and the shell of accumulation by carving out quiet time for moments of prayer and introspection. And in meditation you will find all that you crave simply by getting in touch with your higher self, your God-self that’s higher, and more satisfying than anything man-made.

So, if I’m making any New Year’s resolution for 2010, it’s that my calling won’t involve a Blackberry or any status symbols I supposedly can’t live without. 

Black Star columnist Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic, and a member of the NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.
To hear Woodstock as performed by James Taylor, visit: 

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