In this issue ~~
I couldn't let the year go by without addressing the momentous occasion that is now upon us: the turn of the millennium. Certainly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
You've probably heard enough about the "Y2K problem," earth changes and other apocalyptic predictions that have inundated the media these last couple of years to last you through the *next* millennium. That's to be expected. The turn of a century or millennium tends to bring up some deep-seated human fear of the "end times."
But the new millennium can also be the harbinger of exciting new possibilities. The advances in technology, even over the last two decades, foreshadow incredible new developments in the coming decades. Already, the Internet has brought a flood of information into our lives and enabled us to connect with people all over the world for business and pleasure, through e-mail, chat rooms and the like. While there are still factions trying to limit our human rights, the current is toward greater freedom, and we will continue to see more of that in the coming century. And the frontiers expand inward as well. Joseph Campbell foresaw these times as "the very greatest leap of the human spirit to a knowledge not only outside nature but also of our own deep inward mystery."
We must keep in mind, though, that the speed and potential isolation of a highly mechanized world needs to be balanced with human connection -- through community, spirituality and the arts. It's a time to give as much credence to intuition and senses as to mind and machine. We need to get away from our computers and meet with people face-to-face, and to support each other more and depend less on institutions. We need to get our hands on soil and clay, and not just on keyboard and mouse. To balance the assault on our senses of digital noise and images with the soothing sounds and sights of nature. We need to slow down long enough to savor the moment -- time with people we love and enjoy, as well as attention to the painstaking details of our work that express the beauty and excellence of who we are.
It's customary at this time of year to prepare our resolutions for the coming year. That can be challenging enough. The idea of contemplating resolutions for a new millennium can be absolutely daunting! But we can take it a step at a time.
Normally, when we make our resolutions, we think about what we want to accomplish in the coming year, the things we want to do. That's fine. But let's take it up a notch. Who would you like to be in the new millennium? What parts of you do you like that you want to bring forward? What would you like to change? What "excess baggage" would you like to leave at this millennial threshold? Who is the "you" that you would ultimately like to be?
Be aware that these are not changes that you will accomplish overnight. Deep changes like this take time. But you can go into the new millennium with a picture of who you want to be, to set a direction for your journey. You can get in touch with your strength, talent, kindness, compassion and other positive qualities that you currently embody and commit to continuing and expanding them. You can look at parts of yourself that you're not pleased with and begin to create a strategy for change. It's about setting an ideal for yourself, a beacon to move toward, knowing that you may never accomplish all of it, but knowing that it will make you a better person to try.
We can also look at the things we envision for our world, such as:
These may sound like cliches anymore, but they never cease to be worthy objectives. Again, it's about having and holding a vision, no matter how remote it may seem or whether it will be achieved in our lifetime.
Artists have always been on the cutting edge when it comes to leading the way into the future. While our individual dreams may differ, we can each become clear on our personal vision for a positive future and begin to express it in our lives and our work. We can use our creativity to expand beyond the current view of what's possible.
You may fear that your "little" vision doesn't matter, or that it may be different from other people's visions. But creating a positive future isn't about everyone agreeing what it should look like. It's about holding the vision that rings true for you and contributing that to a sort of "melting pot" of positive visions. It's the confluence of our collective visions that will change the world. You may not be able to create that vision alone, but it will take each of us participating to make it happen.
So go into the new millennium with head held high, knowing that while your problems will not disappear overnight, you can hold a positive vision and contribute to a positive future and a better life for yourself, your loved ones, the current world and future generations.
The new year is a good time to think about change. When you make your new year's resolutions, keep your list short. Pick out one, two or three things you can really commit to, and focus on those for the coming year.
"As we rise to the waves of crisis, change, and choice in our personal and professional lives, perhaps we need a periscope -- that instrument whose mirrors and prisms permit observation through uncharted territory. Let's raise our periscopes and look at what we cannot yet fully see...."
"Until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have."
(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)
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