As I sat around this weekend making various To-Do lists for 2016, (something we all probably do, even if it’s just in our heads), I got a text and my mind began to wander outside the box. Instead of thinking about the book projects I need to finish or start, or the places I want to go, or the weight loss I want to continue to lose, I began to think of my children. What is it that I want for them in 2016? Then…what is it I want for them over the next ten years, twenty, fifty? And finally…how about what I want for humanity during the lives of my children as they grow and enter the world on their own?
This is totally Debbie’s doing, this derailing of thoughts that took me away from the TMDBook business plan for 2016, and head-first into the heavy and treacherous waters of desiring World Peace. First, you may not know who Debbie is, and I could talk all day about her, but here’s the short version: She’s a beautiful human being. One of those rare gems who glow from the inside out, making her inner beauty just as gorgeous as her outer beauty, and I’m lucky because she’s one of my best friends. Like, BFF’s for life, kind of best friend.
Years ago, when Debbie was making the transition from a carnist to a vegetarian, then to a vegan, I was a young parent running my own child care. I paid attention, asked her questions, and began the self-learning journey that I’m still on today. I allowed myself to make the painful connections between what humans do to each other, and what us humans do to animals and nature. I began to ask ‘why’? And then how to process the answers I found from my own experiences, or under cover videos, documentaries, modern research findings and statistics, common sense, etc… Eventually, with the knowledge I had gained and the connections I made, I became a vegetarian myself, as did my young children. Debbie and I have learned together, and not just about diet, animal cruelty, and environmental concerns, but about life in general. In a way, Debbie has helped make these transitions easier, more enlightened and most definitely funnier.
Aside from our normal chats, every now and then we call or text each other simply to discuss the most recent exchange we had with someone whose beliefs are very different from ours. We can vent, give each other advice, and feel solace that we are not alone on our journeys. This is a comfort not sold in stores. And it’s after a few of these recent chats that this post came to be.
I should back track and say that I’m not perfect (and Debbie’s not either, though I dare someone to show me her flaws). In fact, no one is perfect, regardless of what kind of life they lead. That’s humanity, right? An unbalanced mess that is often times horrible and often times beautiful. It’s life. We live it once and hope that along the way we don’t get snuffed out before we are ready, and that we gather up family and friends and things, and then only when we are ready we die peacefully in our sleep with no regrets. The fact is, that doesn’t happen to a lot of us. And I’ve realized that I don’t want that to happen to me.
I want to live a full and long life, yes. I want to gather up family and friends and the things that matter, yes. But I don’t want to die with no regrets. Because what kind of life is so perfect that in the moment before you leave it, you think you know it all and learned all there is to learn? If there is enough self-awareness in the moments before I leave this place, I could quite possibly regret many things, like what I had for dinner the day before or which pair of underwear I had on, or not saying ‘I Love You’ enough through out my life. Seriously. That will be me.
So, what I want for 2016 is simple. It’s a combination of the answers to those three questions I thought of after reading through some chats with Debbie and thinking about some of our exchanges about humanity and life:
Health. Happiness. Compassion. Love.
I think 2016 can provide those things. Life will happen, sure, but how we live the life we have determines our future. This is something I wish for everyone. By following those four things above the best we can, imagine the lives we could live and the future we could provide for ourselves and our children if we stepped outside ourselves and adapted more of a ‘do no harm’ kind of lifestyle? That is the life I want to live; a life where I am at peace with my choices to treat other people and animals with respect and equal value, an awareness of the beauty and necessity of our natural environment, and love that is limitless without rules and laws.
Despite the walls that it throws at us, life can be malleable. We can shape it. Mold it. Transform it. Our lives are worth so much more than simply surviving the day, because life is meant to be beautiful.
2016 can be amazing, if we let it.