We start a new calendar year, wishing all a happy, healthy, prosperous new year. Everyone means well and each of us tries to remind all our listed “contacts” that we are thinking of them at this special time of the year. So, we take the trouble to search for and download an electronic card displaying what we believe would be a suitable “spiritually uplifting” message and blast it out, en masse. Click to open it dear special recipient, music will play as a cursive message specially chosen for you slowly unfolds. There, it is simple. Joy and peace all around, tinged with hope that for the next twelve calendar months this world will become a better place. As our grandkids love to announce after completing an assigned task, “All Done!”
Some people like to send their messages late in the evening on December 31, while others prefer to have their message show up in their addressees’ mailbox/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/WhatsApp account first thing on January 1. Technology now empowers us to create the communication and even arrange for it to be blasted out at the appointed hour taking global time zones into consideration! Hallmark and other paper card dispensing companies must hate that people are now able to communicate their emotions with little effort, so easily and comfortably. We do not have to drive out in these frigid temperatures to a mall, find parking, walk into a store and hunt for cards suited to each special relationship. While not being a cheapskate it helps not having to pay for the cards and postage, both of which are now viewed as a wasteful expense by some of us.
I truly appreciate receiving good wishes, a number of which are from strangers whom I might not even recall; awfully kind of them to take the trouble to maintain a record of my coordinates and thoughtfully greet me at the start of the year! It is particularly gratifying to receive the occasional good old fashioned paper card with a brief, handwritten personalized message. And then, there are a few “annual update” missives containing pictures and a brief write-up highlighting significant activities of the sender’s family during the year that was.
Being somewhat indolent, I have convinced myself that “it is the thought that counts,” thus conveniently dispensing with the ritual of greeting friends, family and strangers other than to respond to messages received by me. Doing my bit for global ecology, paper cards have been a no-no for me for a long time. I have also been influenced by the British lady referenced in my blog of November 5, 2016, who did not need an occasion or any excuse to convey her love and best wishes to friends and family. When she thought fondly about someone, she mailed that person a birthday card!
Just like others who may be taking stock of times past while looking ahead to the future, I too have been paddling through the space-time continuum, flipping through notes and reflecting on the hundreds of mental, digital and paper pictorial images recorded over the years to commemorate events and relationships. Each has a special place in my life and heart and brings a wistful smile. I guess there is value in us taking time out even if only once a year, to think of all the people who have been and remain a part of our lives and thank them for being so special. A lifetime is way too short to hold on to perceived grudges and slights, while leaning on historical crutches for justification. I must consciously choose not to push another person’s buttons even if he claims “I have a bigger button than yours!”
With the benefit of hindsight, I am fortunately able to now smile through it all – deaths, births, meetings and partings. It is all truly a state of mind. The following Zen Buddhist parable best illustrates this:
Two men were arguing about a flag flapping in the wind.
“It’s the wind that is really moving,” stated the first one. “No, it is the flag that is moving,” contended the second.
A Zen master, who happened to be walking by, overheard the debate and interrupted them. “Neither the flag nor the wind is moving,” he said, “It is MIND that moves.”
It’s Yesterday Once More, as the Carpenters have been reminding us since 1973.