"525,600 minutes... How do you measure a year?" -- From RENT, by Jonathan Larson
With the failure of the world to end on Dec. 21, 2012, according to the Mayan calendar kerfuffle, we can all take a deep breath. While I say this with tongue in cheek, it nonetheless offers a perfect segue to a conversation about calendars and the power we tend to delegate to them. None of this is meant to either discount or over-exaggerate the meaning and value of having and using a calendar -- it's to emphasize the importance of mindfulness when creating that calendar. As a proponent of mindful living, I have a question for you: How will you mete out (or measure) the "525,600 minutes" that the new year has allotted to you in a manner that allows you to move through it minute by minute with grace, ease, joy, faith, and whatever else it is that would culminate as a life worth living?
To a large part, the journey of our lives seems to be guided by a map we create ourselves -- it's called a "calendar," which can become an etheric superhighway our minds travel far in advance of our bodies, too often at a breakneck pace. This map is composed of invisible seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months which do not yet exist, culminating in the completion of a timespan we call a "year" -- and the ironic thing is, to some degree, it charts out our destiny long before we arrive at any given point. Have you ever thought of your calendar as a form of predestination? It's noteworthy that the words "destiny" and "destination" are derived from the same root word, destine, which comes from the Latin word dēstināre, meaning "to establish or determine." In short, to some measure, what you place on your calendar determines your future -- you are establishing the rhythm and route your life will follow for the year ahead, so doing it mindfully is a mark of true wisdom. Many people's lives are complemented and enhanced by the conscious use of a calendar -- other people's lives are run and ruined by their unconscious use of a calendar.
As we enter the new year, many of us are busy filling in the calendar with commitments, things to do, and places to go. My computer's calendar has already automatically filled in certain "repeating" events, not only for 2013 but through the year 2025 -- I didn't bother looking any further ahead than that because I am quite sure it goes on for eternity. If the Mayans had had computers, I wonder if their calendar would have still ended as abruptly as it did?
We'll never know for sure what the Mayans had in mind, but the one thing we can be assured of is that, as George Carlin stated, "The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life." In other words, life goes on day after day, year after year, with or without a calendar. The question is, will you arrive at the end of the year with grace and ease or, in fits and jerks, all stressed out because of how you meted out your allotted "525,600 minutes"? I can speak to this issue with some authority because I have done it both ways. Until this past year my tendency was to overcommit myself, booking far too many things to do and places to be without really thinking it through. It took me a while to learn the art of pacing myself, and that has become a true blessing in my life. The lesson for me was one of learning when to say no. It became clear to me that saying yes, without first consciously looking at the calendar and considering how it would affect the flow and rhythm of my life, would fire up my stress meter--I could feel it from the base of my skull to the base of my spine. What I know is that living in stress makes a life mess. Perhaps you can relate.
The point is, when filling in your calendar for the year, between all your doing, be sure to leave space to breathe and just be -- if even for a few hours. It will make a big difference. Some may argue that in this fast-paced world, many people are doing all that they are doing just to get by and the idea of pacing themselves by leaving intentional holes in their calendar to take a breath just doesn't seem possible or logical. My only response is that in the long run, it is the key to arriving at year's end in one piece -- or perhaps that should be peace.
As a mindfulness practice consider trying this: Before putting anything new on the calendar, take a deep breath and consider the ebb and flow of the energy required to honor that commitment, allow yourself to get in touch with your stress meter before you say yes and listen to what it has to say -- then follow your inner guidance. It will not steer you wrong. If used mindfully, the calendar is a wonderful tool with which you can measure your year before living it -- intentionally pacing yourself with a rhythm that suits and honors your life spiritually, mentally and physically. As the song says, you have "525,600 minutes" to mete out this year. You don't have to be a Mayan to know how to use your calendar to determine what 2013 will be like -- just mindful.
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