Thoughts to Start 2023 and Begin a New Year

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As we leave the “Old Year” behind and get ready to greet the “New Year” here are some thoughts that I hope you will enjoy from some great poets and authors.  These writings are in the public domain. 

The Death of the Old Year by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

And the winter winds are wearily sighing:

Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,

And tread softly and speak low,

For the old year lies a-dying.

Old year you must not die;

You came to us so readily,

You lived with us so steadily,

Old year you shall not die.

 

He lieth still: he doth not move:

He will not see the dawn of day.

He hath no other life above.

He gave me a friend and a true truelove

And the New-year will take ’em away.

Old year you must not go;

So long you have been with us,

Such joy as you have seen with us,

Old year, you shall not go.

 

He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;

A jollier year we shall not see.

But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,

And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,

He was a friend to me.

Old year, you shall not die;

We did so laugh and cry with you,

I’ve half a mind to die with you,

Old year, if you must die.

 

He was full of joke and jest,

But all his merry quips are o’er.

To see him die across the waste

His son and heir doth ride post-haste,

But he’ll be dead before.

Every one for his own.

The night is starry and cold, my friend,

And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,

Comes up to take his own.

 

How hard he breathes! over the snow

I heard just now the crowing cock.

The shadows flicker to and fro:

The cricket chirps: the light burns low:

‘Tis nearly twelve o’clock.

Shake hands, before you die.

Old year, we’ll dearly rue for you:

What is it we can do for you?

Speak out before you die.

 

His face is growing sharp and thin.

Alack! our friend is gone,

Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:

Step from the corpse, and let him in

That standeth there alone,

And waiteth at the door.

There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,

And a new face at the door, my friend,

 A new face at the door.

——————————

New Year’s Eve by Thomas Hardy

    “I have finished another year,” said God,

     “In grey, green, white, and brown;

    I have strewn the leaf upon the sod,

    Sealed up the worm within the clod,

     And let the last sun down.”

    “And what’s the good of it?” I said.

     “What reasons made you call

    From formless void this earth we tread,

    When nine-and-ninety can be read

     Why nought should be at all?

    “Yea, Sire; why shaped you us, ‘who in

     This tabernacle groan’ –

    If ever a joy be found herein,

    Such joy no man had wished to win

     If he had never known!”

    Then he: “My labours – logicless –

     You may explain; not I:

    Sense-sealed I have wrought, without a guess

    That I evolved a Consciousness

     To ask for reasons why.

    “Strange that ephemeral creatures who

     By my own ordering are,

    Should see the shortness of my view,

    Use ethic tests I never knew,

     Or made provision for!”

    He sank to raptness as of yore,

     And opening New Year’s Day

    Wove it by rote as theretofore,

    And went on working evermore

     In his unweeting way.

——————————–

Te Deum by Charles Reznikoff,

Not because of victories

I sing,

having none,

but for the common sunshine,

the breeze,

the largess of the spring.

Not for victory

but for the day’s work done

as well as I was able;

not for a seat upon the dais

but at the common table.

———————————

Brighter, Better New Year by Joanna Fuchs

Happy, happy New Year!

We wish you all the best,

Great work to reach your fondest goals,

And when you’re done, sweet rest.

We hope for your fulfillment,

Contentment, peace and more,

A brighter, better new year than

You’ve ever had before.

——————————————-

A New Year to Start

Finally, from some place within me that calculates the benefits of a New Year versus the Old Year, I believe that January 1, 2023, brings more than just the beginning of a New Year.  It brings a promise of hope and possibilities.

It is the time when it becomes traditional for us to form new resolutions, new dreams, and new goals.  It is the time when we want to begin over and try to make those desires come true that did not work out the year before. 

We should bring in the New Year as a mother brings in a newborn baby, full of promise and love.  There are those critics and skeptics who look at the inevitable human trail of broken dreams and unfulfilled goals from bygone years and laugh at our efforts.  Let us not be like those who deny the possibility of hope and change. 

I may often be a pessimist but for any of you with the courage to tackle a new set of goals or dreams, I say “try, try, and try again.”  When you give up your dreams, you give up your life. 

Happy New Year from the Persicos.

Endless Horizons:  How We Learn and Develop

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I have a theory about life and about how we grow as individuals. I call this my theory of “Endless Horizons.”  I developed this theory through experience and observation.  I would like to share it with you this week.  It has been a big inspiration in my life and provided a great deal of motivation for me in my journeys.  It involves the ability to accept the unknown but with a difference that is important.  Whereas many theories posit an “unknown and unknowable,” my theory says that what is unknown may just possibly be “over the next horizon.”  Let me explain more.

Once upon a time, I believed that what we see, feel, taste and smell was all that there was.  It did not get any better or worse than what I was already experiencing.  I was usually a very angry guy.  I was ready to physically fight at the drop of a hat or some perceived slur or insult.  My temper and lack of anger management got me into a lot of trouble.  I was arrested for assault and battery.  I had more fights than I can remember.

“Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.” — Bo Bennett

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Perhaps worse was the constant state of fear that it kept my first wife and daughter in.  I never realized how hurtful my temper and lack of anger control was to them.  From my throwing things, to yelling and punching walls, I was like a volcano that might explode at any moment.  Even my sleep time was violent.  I was constantly having nightmares of someone chasing me and trying to kill me.  I would wake up drenched in sweat with my pulse racing a mile a minute.

My first wife and I divorced after sixteen years.  My daughter who was fifteen at the time eventually cut off all contact with me.  I have not seen or talked to her for over twenty years now.

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“Building a better life for every child is a lot harder than becoming a world champion. Both goals take dedication and commitment.” — Kim Yuna

I knew I needed some help and I joined a treatment program for violent and abusive men.  About ½ of the men were in treatment voluntarily and about ½ were court ordered.  It was sponsored by the Wilder Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I completed the program (which met weekly) for about 16 weeks. After that I continued with a support group for another two years or so.  The support group also met weekly and was restricted to men who had finished the regular treatment program.  I had a buddy (Jerry) whom I could call if my temper flared up.  Jerry was part of my process or control plan for dealing with my anger issues rather than acting out.  There was more to the plan that included walks and other means of cooling off. 

I do not know whether my marriage would have been saved if I had gone through this program earlier.  I do know my wife would have been a lot happier and my daughter would probably still be speaking to me.  Another thing I know is that my nightmares went away.

Getting back to my “Endless Horizon Theory,” I first observed it in the anger support groups that I went to weekly.  Before coming to these groups, most “angry” men were in denial.  It was always, “they or she made me do it.”  “It was not my fault.”  The horizon of most men in terms of their awareness of themselves was very short.  After they went to treatment, they made it to a new horizon of sorts.  From this new horizon, many men could now understand that it was their fault not the fault of others around them.  If they chose to, they did not have to go through life angry, violent and abusive.  Standing at the horizon of having accepted their responsibility for their anger, they could see a new horizon.  This horizon was one of equanimity and if not happiness, at least not misery.  The support groups offered a way to get to this next horizon.  As they say, “Rome was not built in a day.”  Well, dealing with anger problems involves a trip of years.  It would not be an easy journey for many of these men.

I stayed in the group for nearly two years.  Many of the men I met during these two years were also long-timers.  Our support group seemed to grow together as friends and comrades along the journey.  I think many of us made it to the next horizon.  When I arrived there, I saw another horizon just beyond the one I had reached.  We had all assumed that the best we could get would be a life without being constantly angry and explosive.  When I came to this new horizon, I began to understand that there was more that I could accomplish.  The next horizon promised happiness and a positive outlook to life.  Many of us had gone from a negative outlook on life to a neutral outlook and now saw a horizon that promised a positive outlook.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

Unfortunately, the Wilder Center did not see that as the role of these support groups.  They saw their mission as helping to curb domestic abuse.  They did not see their mission as helping men grow and develop beyond their ability to control their anger issues.  With the lack of support and even hostility towards our new goal, many of the long-termers in my group simply quit and went away.  I kept in touch with a few men, but the years have melted these relationships away. 

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.” — N. R. Narayana Murthy

I realized that when I reached one horizon, I could now see beyond it to a new horizon. It was clear to me that there was possibly an infinite number of new horizons.  If one has the tenacity, discipline and determination, there is no end to the development that we potentially can reach.  Another experience gave me more proof for my theory of “Endless Horizons.”

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My second wife Karen and I have both been to two Marriage Encounter weekends.  We went to our first Marriage Encounter weekend about five years into our marriage.  The second weekend was about ten years after the first.  Both weekends had very positive impacts on our marriage, friendship and lives.  My horizon theory was further strengthened by events that happened at both weekends.  I will relate the events at the first weekend.

I was long past worrying about anger issues by the time of our first Marriage Encounter weekend.  I had been trying to be more tolerant of Karen and some of the things that she did that annoyed me.  I had reached what I will call a Horizon of Tolerance.  I thought I was doing pretty good when I could practice tolerance.  When I could not, I would be sarcastic, rude and frustrated.  We went to the first weekend as a means of improving our marriage.  I will forever be grateful to the organizations and volunteers that put these weekends on.  We have found that both these weekends helped us to be better lovers, parents and friends.

Well, during the first weekend, we were having some discussion about the issue of tolerance.  I was pretty pumped up because I thought I was doing pretty good with dealing with this issue.  I made the remark that I thought I was very tolerant.  The response I received caught me by surprise.  It was something to the effect that tolerance falls short of respecting the other person. The speaker explained that tolerance simply accepts what is.  Respect on the other hand sees the benefits and appreciates the value of what is.  There is a significant difference between respect and tolerance.  For instance, we can tolerate minorities or people who are different than we are but that is not the same as respecting them.

I was confronted with a new horizon for my relationship with Karen and our marriage. Again, I realized that this new horizon further supported my “Endless Horizon” theory of growth and development.  I had finally accepted (and thus my theory was born) that there is an endless number of horizons.  Each horizon presents a new possibility for growth.  We cannot see beyond our present horizon, but we can be sure that something new will await us once we reach it.

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”  — Napoleon Hill

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What does it take to reach a horizon?  I said earlier that you must have determination.  It helps to have support and coaching along the way.  As the song says, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”  It also takes commitment to keep trying.  There are lots of potholes along the way. There are dead-ends.  There are large crevasses, boulders and obstacles to overcome.  There are no straight flat highways to the next horizon.  It is not a straight-line journey.  There are times when you will get lost and times when you will go backwards.  But the journey is not to the fittest but to the ones who are most determined.

Time for Questions:

What horizon are you at in your life?  What new horizons have you found in your life’s journey?  What obstacles have you had to overcome?  Have you given up on finding new horizons or are you still searching for new horizons?  Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“The journey is never ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.” — Antonio Brown

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