A Deep Breath of Life
by Alan Cohen
January 1 Clean Slate
Grand adventures await those who are willing to turn the corner.
- Chinese fortune cookie
In the film Clean Slate, Dana Carvey portrays a man named Pogue who has an unusual type of amnesia--when he goes to sleep each night, he forgets everything that happened to him before that time. A woman who had once manipulated Pogue asks him, "Can you ever forgive me for what I did to you last week?"
In an utterly childlike way, Pogue shrugs his shoulders and answers, "Sure!" Of course he can--he doesn't have the slightest clue what she did to him! As far as he is concerned, nothing ever happened; his relationship with her is as new as the current day.
As you enter this new year, nothing in the past has any power to affect what you do now. You are an entirely new person, different from the person you were. This year has never been lived before, and you have never had the consciousness you now have. You are setting sail on a great adventure determined only by how grand you are willing to think. This year, think big thoughts to create miraculous results.
I pray to start over. No matter what has happened, I am willing to let today be new. Thank you for the chance to begin again.
Today I begin anew. I see through the eyes of innocence.
January 2 Act Now
There are two fatal errors that keep great projects from coming to life:
1. Not finishing 2. Not starting
While living at a farming community, our group planned to erect a new house. For many months, we discussed the plans, and because we did not fully agree, nothing was done. Then one day, one man went out to the building site with a plumb line and began to hammer stakes into the ground. It wasn't long before the house was built.
You can think and talk about a project for a long time, but only action will manifest it. If you wait until you're ready, you'll never get anything done. Don't wait until all the conditions are perfect for you to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.
Work through my hands to bring about the things that will serve You.
I step forward with the trust that Spirit is moving through me to create good.
January 3 Grow with the Flow
I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year:
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied, "Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way."
- Quoted by King George VI of England
Two men were walking beside a river on their way to a town downstream when a storm broke, and a flash flood washed both men into the river. One man panicked, tried to fight his way back to shore, and drowned. The other man realized that the torrent was beyond his control and relaxed to the best of his ability, letting the river carry him. To his happy surprise, the river deposited him on the banks of the town he was headed toward, in a much shorter time than it would have taken him to walk.
When you come up against a situation you cannot control, trust that the universe is working on your behalf. When we fight what is, we lose our power. The sage capitalizes on the energy at hand and makes it work on his behalf.
Help me to remember that You are present in all situations, guiding me home even when I cannot see how.
I am always in the presence of love. Everything that happens to me is a part of the plan for my good.
January 4 May I Feed You?
Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices.
Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.
- Katherine Mansfield
Waiting for the airplane to take off, I was happy to get a seat by myself. Just then, a flight attendant approached me and asked, "Would you mind changing your seat? A couple would like to sit together. " The only other available seat was next to a woman with both arms in casts, a black-and-blue face, and a gloomy aura. No way am I going to sit there, was my immediate thought. But then a deeper, quieter voice spoke, "Opportunity." I took my new seat and discovered that Kathy had been in an auto collision, and she was on her way for therapy.
When the snack of nuts and juice arrived, it did not take me long to realize that Kathy would not be able to feed herself. I considered offering to feed her but resisted, as it seemed too intimate a service to offer to a stranger. But then I decided that Kathy's need was more important than my discomfort. I offered to help her eat, and although she too was uncomfortable about accepting, she did. The experience was exhilarating, and she and I grew close in a short period of time. By the end of the five-hour trip, my heart was fully alive, and the time was infinitely better spent than if I had just sat by myself.
I was very glad I had reached beyond my comfort zone to sit next to Kathy and feed her. Love always flows beyond human borders and dissolves the fears that keep us separate. When we stretch to serve another, we grow to live in a larger, more rewarding world.
Help me move beyond the small self so I can connect with the hearts of others.
When I give love to another, I feed my own soul.
January 5 Be Firm
If you come to a fork in the road, take it.
- Yogi Berra
I was struck by an unusual ad in the classified section of the local newspaper: "Dodge truck for sale. $5,000 firm or best offer." Was the price firm, or was the seller willing to negotiate? Apparently he couldn't make up his mind.
Life will support us in our decisions, but we have to make a decision around which the universe can gather. Often it is better to make a wrong decision than no decision. If you make an error, you can either correct it or learn from it; in either case you will move ahead. If you make no decision, you will likely remain just where you are.
A friend of mine had an inspiring bumper sticker on her washing machine: Sin Boldly. I loved it! The message, as I understood it, was an advisory to live life with conviction and a whole heart. Be fully whatever you are. The Bible tells us that God "spews the lukewarm out of His mouth." If you are in life, then be fully in life. Don't sit around wondering what you might do until it is too late to do anything. Will Rogers said, "You might be on the right track, but if you are sitting on it, you are going to get run over. "
Live by choice, not self-protection. Be active rather than reactive. Make a stand for your truth, and your truth will make a stand for you.
Support me to walk my talk.
My power comes from being what I am.
January 6 Limitbusters
Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"May I speak to you for a moment?" the older woman asked the young hunk on the beach.
"Well, I was hoping to have some quiet time," he replied.
"I won't bother you -- I just need to tell you something."
She pulled her beach towel next to his. "I need to talk to you because I am afraid to," Beverly confessed. "I feel too shy to speak to good-looking men who are younger than I am. When I saw you today, I wanted to talk to you, but I felt anxious. So I had to do this to break my sense of 'I can't.'"
The man thanked Beverly for her honesty, and the two engaged in pleasant conversation. Then she excused herself and walked away, stronger than she was when she approached him.
Fear tells us that we are small, powerless, and separate. Love affirms that we are great, creative, and connected. Which voice do you choose to be your guide?
The way to dissolve a limit is to step right up to it and look it in the eye. When we shine the light on the darkness, we see that the thing we ran from had power over us only as long as we kept it at a distance. When we face what frightens us, we discover that we are bigger than it is. We can do anything we choose; we were not born to live in fear, but in love.
I am free as God created me,
I am bigger than fear.
I step forward and live in the light.
January 7 Finally Made Something
What should it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul?
- Jesus Christ
As a boy, my idol was baseball star Mickey Mantle. Along with millions of other kids, I dreamed of playing centerfield for the Yankees, slamming home runs over the fence to the tune of a huge crowd's roar of adoration, and winning the Most Valuable Player Award. Several years ago, I saw an interview with Mickey Mantle after he had come out of the Betty Ford Clinic. I was stunned to learn that my hero had succumbed to a long and grisly bout with alcoholism. The interviewer asked the former star, nearing death due to liver damage, "How would you like people to remember Mickey Mantle?"
With great humility he answered, "I would like people to think that I finally made something of myself."
Finally? I couldn't believe my ears! If anybody had ever made anything of himself, I thought, it was Mickey Mantle, the most loved and respected athlete of an entire generation. The Mick was the king. Yet, through his eyes, all his stardom was for naught in the face of his losses to drink. To Mickey Mantle, overcoming his alcoholism was a far greater achievement than all the home runs he'd ever hit.
All worldly glory pales in comparison to spiritual awakening. Mickey Mantle mastered his lesson of a lifetime when he graduated from the Betty Ford Clinic. No matter what accolades we achieve in the outer world, it is our inner life we need to come to terms with. Although he had all the laurels a man could dream of, Mickey Mantle found peace only when he found himself.
Should you be tempted to trade inner peace for worldly glory, remember the Mick. It's what's inside that counts.
Help me remember where my true peace lies.
I am a spiritual being. I nourish my spirit and I am fed.
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