Usually the first thing everyone talks about when the
New Year rolls around is their New Year’s resolutions.
What didn’t happen during the previous year and
resolving to make it happen during the coming year;
promising to become happier, healthier, wealthier, or
more productive; promising to take more time for your
family or yourself — all noble resolutions to be sure,
but somewhat less than certain that they will ever come
Often thought of as part of our journey from
the imperfect now where we are today to the perfect
future where we want to be, New Year’s resolutions serve
as guideposts to dreams. We do not often allow ourselves
to dream about our future, but we have given ourselves
permission to place particular importance upon the ones
we value the most when the calendar year draws to a
close and the promise of fresh new beginnings is raising
optimistic glints in everyones’ eyes.
It’s a matter of perception.
Our reaction to and perception of the past is often
subdued at best, and in the quietness of our hearts we
know we could have done better, accomplished more, acted
more purposefully, or loved more passionately. We take
the past as the bellwether of things to come and it is
with no little apprehension that we face the coming year
with a tinge of self-judgment.
Our perception of the future is nearly always rosy.
After all, why would anyone want a future filled with
turmoil, strife, and hardship? Tomorrow always brings
with it the release of old limitations and the promise
of new fulfillments. The past is something we have
already tried and moved beyond. The past, the one each
individual experiences, may have been an amazing
symphony of momentous challenges overcome and fabulous
It is the past that we turn our backs on and the
future that we pin our sights on.
I once heard of a man, an important teacher to
thousands and the head of his community, who resolved to
give up apples. Not because he didn’t like apples — he
loved them and ate a few every day. No, this man gave up
apples because something deep down within himself
recognized that for a resolution to mean anything, it
had to hit him where he lived. It occurred to him that
any resolution is not about accomplishing something as
it is about determining to strengthen your character in
Do you love apples? Their juicy deliciousness? Their
wholesome crunch? This man did. He knew that, for a
resolution to stand any chance of strengthening his
character, he needed to give up something he cherished
rather than dream up something he desired.
This brought him to an important understanding of the
nature of desire. Giving up apples was a way for him to
bring his awareness back to the present moment. Any
desire for an apple, which had earlier been an ingrained
habit for him, reminded him that the present doesn’t
actually need apples to be savored. It is delicious just
as it is.
When we look at the past, we are seeing it from the
present perspective of who we are now. In this fashion,
the past seems to us like a condition of lack because
from the standpoint of the present moment, the past can
never be as richly sensual nor as fully experienced as
the present. The past is a tape we run in the present, a
story about other presents we have experienced — where
we were in time and who we perceived ourselves to be. We
can never run this tape from the past. It always plays
out in our memories in the present moment.
From the standpoint of the present, our past desires
will always be poor 2D renditions of our
multidimensional now, much like looking at
low-resolution b&w prints. The emotional color, the
experiential saturation, the sense of movement is
nothing how we experience the present.
On the other hand, our imaginations usually turn our
futures into stupendous technicolor productions of
beautiful complexity and appeal. We are entertained by
our futures because we love to consider how it would
feel to have that thing, experience that condition, love
that person, build that ediface, or discover that
The future engages our emotional selves in a way that
few things do for many of us in the present. Our present
selves may be routine bound, discouraged, and worn out.
Our present selves may have lost sight of what inspires
us and become gray shadows in the glorious world when
once we were lit up by the flames of our creativity and
The future is a movie ticket to that inspired source
within that trusts in the goodness of things. The future
is about having faith in the face of the unknown to
come. From the standpoint of the present, our future
dreams will always be larger than life, but that
largeness occurs only in our imaginations, not in life
Life itself is always present, eternally and
infinitely so. Life is the essential stuff of existence
in our universe, and who’s to say whether the very stars
themselves are not alive with some mysterious force that
we all sense but rarely explore in depth. Science has
pointed out to us that the atoms in our bodies, and
indeed the entire cosmos, came from the stellar
birthplace of billions of stars. Religion adds the
qualities of awareness and moral action to this act of
creation and humanizes it by assigning it to a creator.
Is it any wonder that we experience our future as a sort
of brightly shining re-experience of our stellar birth?
And what has all that to do with resolving to give up
apples? Simply this: the present, not the past or the
future, is where our life takes place. To the extent
that we are conscious of our resolutions in the present
moment, we are able to affect real changes in our lives.
Dwelling in the past is settling for a limited version
of the now, and anticipating the future is imagining our
own perfectability. Learn from the past, energize your
creative imagination from the future, but always live in
Your New Year’s resolutions will be firmly
anchored in your life if you do so, but do it NOW!
Tim Thompson is a professional freelance writer/editor
whose work with Dream
illuminate life for online and offline audiences around
the world. He is currently busy working on several
writing and editing projects. Please visit Thompson
InkWorks [http://www.thompsoninkworks.com/] for more