By: Daniel Hodgman
The Tuesday before New Years Day, as the sun slid beyond the outer reaches of Florida’s horizon line behind cackling trees with leaves starting to fall, I found myself leaving work and looking forward to my last meal of meat and a start to a healthier lifestyle. I had proclaimed proudly, merely two weeks before, that I would cut out all meats from my diet–most notably red meat, which has hampered my health just like penalty flags for the Detroit Lions. My reasoning behind this was–because even I can admit that certain meat is healthy for your diet–that if I could cut out meat entirely, I could cut out fast food entirely, and I could also implement more sustainable foods that I had previously avoided like the plague: yogurt, soy, beans, tofu, more than a single plate of veggies.
Here I found myself standing in front of a pulled pork sandwich, the clock skulking towards my deadline–8:00, okay I have four more hours. I took a bite, and then I took a few more, and without thinking I just stopped. Maybe it was the pressure of the new year distorting my thoughts, but at some point while engulfing my last bit of meat for life I felt disgusted with myself. I felt disgusted with the fact that even though I had decided to give up meat more than two weeks ago, I selfishly chose to use 2014 as an excuse to extend my eating habits to the very crumbling precipice that is my health. I felt disgusted with the fact that it took me 23 years to realize that maybe my eating habits weren’t the best for my body. Most importantly however–and the point I’m trying to make to drive this letter home–I felt disgusted because instead of just doing something, I found some sort of excuse to delay the slow churning problem that was presented in front of me.
It wasn’t even 2014 and I had learned my first lesson of the year: forget the resolutions, or getting around to it, just do.
When the new year comes around, it gives us this thought that we get to start over. It throws its freshness over us, and it reverberates the notion that our past mistakes can be cleared if we use this new year to wipe the slate clean.
This notion is flawed.
The new year is merely another notch on the time belt. It’s a continuation of “what has” and a vague precedent for “what will.” January 1st doesn’t mean that our past mistakes are forgiven, our past accomplishments null and void, or that people we’ve hurt have forgotten; what January 1st signifies is another day, another month and ultimately, just another year. We can use this as a landmark for starting anew, or changing our ways, or starting something different, but time itself runs unscathed on a borderless platform, so why should we let time border us? We need to focus on the now. So instead of waiting, or saying “we’ll do it tomorrow,” let’s all strive to push for the betterment of ourselves, our community and our world.
We need to learn to love our peers more each and every day. This seems simple, and yet it’s incredibly sad how much discontent, bitterness, hatred and even violence there is between peers. Love is an ever-evolving orb that adjusts throughout life, and we need to adjust as well. It goes without saying that we need to be less judgmental, but if I can sit here and write that I still sometimes judge complete strangers without knowing their story, then I have a problem. I need to change. I need to be more accepting. I need to realize that they’re going through and trying to do the same exact thing as me. With love we have no bitter shield like judgment to hinder our character. With love we can openly accept a fellow human being, no matter their skin color, cultural background, sex, sexual orientation and creed. With love we can start focusing on the positives around us instead of the negatives that somehow creep towards the surface for all to feast on.
We need to learn to love ourselves more each and every day. There are times, and I would bet money on this, that we all feel like complete and utter shit. We wake up and instantly feel a tinge of despair or regret. We trudge into the shower 30 minutes later than usual. We look at ourselves in the mirror and just ask “why?” We go through phases of questioning our own habits, or clothing style, or looks and we just take ourselves down from within. We need to realize that we’re unique, that no two souls on this Earth are the same, so why should we hold our character to anyone other than ourselves? We need to realize that judging oneself is just as bad as judging others. When we’re told to be more open-minded and show less brow towards our peers, we also need to take that into consideration for our own mind and body, because if we don’t love ourselves, then how do we expect anyone else to? Wayne Dyer, a self-help speaker and motivational teacher once said, “judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances. (Source: tiny buddha)” Take that in whenever you judge yourself. Just take that in.
We need to start forgiving ourselves for past mistakes and forgiving all those who have hurt us. It is human nature to make mistakes. Without mistakes we don’t learn. Without mistakes we don’t grow. And without mistakes we remain the same person, slowly trudging through life at a standstill. If we can learn to forgive ourselves for our past mistakes, our soul will essentially be free of that certain stranglehold. Forgiving ourselves will breach the chains that hold in our freedom to become anything we want to be. Along with this, we need to start forgiving all of those who have hurt us in the past. Like I said before, it is human nature to make mistakes. So whether it was a dirty breakup with your ex, or a friend that didn’t stay true to their word, remember that life is too short to be engulfed with anger regarding something in the past. Catherine Ponder, minister of the Unity Church, says it best: “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free. (Source: goodreads)”
We need to put things into perspective. If you’re reading this, then you either have internet or you have the ability to travel somewhere that does. Currently, 39% of 7.1 billion people are internet users. That means that 61%, or 4.33 billion people, are without it (Source: ITU). Didn’t have a good day? Feel like posting a status about how you stepped into a puddle and got all wet? Stop for a second and just put things into perspective. If you can openly complain on the internet about a small freak accident in your otherwise normal life, then what can you say about the billions who are going without food and water, or maybe those children who didn’t experience Christmas because of their family’s situation? Remember to acknowledge your privilege–that you are currently in a state where you don’t need to constantly worry about things that come freely to you everyday. Use this to strive to make things better for your community and for the world as a whole. By acknowledging this, you have the ability to shape our world for the better and to help out those less fortunate. Maybe you could volunteer weekly at a soup kitchen, or maybe you could spare a quarter each day going towards relief funds or food drives. Maybe you could help out with community projects or bring about ideas that better our country’s schools. The choice is yours and it’s up to you, but always remember to acknowledge the privilege that you have and the power you can use to help this world for the better. Always count your blessings, and when things might be getting you down, hold that head up and step forward because it could be so much worse.
We need to remember the little things and love life. There is beauty all around us, and there is beauty in us. We need to remember this. There’s a saying that if you expect the best possible outcome, then it’ll come (kind of like Murphy’s Law?) and that’s how you should approach life. Walk with your head up and immerse yourself in the glory that is around you. More importantly, dig deep and expect the best out of yourself, your friends, your family and your peers, and things will come together. They always do.
As 2014 continues to roll, I won’t think about resolutions or starting anew. I will however, think about continually learning more about myself, my peers, my community and all those that make it grow. I will strive to live with an open mind. I will love myself just as I love others. I will be more open-minded. I will speak up. I’m going to do the things that bring me happiness. I’m going to be grateful. And I’m going to live.
With this, I’m going to bring this mindset and passion to Bonus Cut and every project we embark on. We’re going to continually strive to share stories that need to be shared, highlight individuals that make a difference, bring people together from all parts of this world, organize groups of conscious individuals who can help bring about betterment and peace and focus on what’s right. For Bonus Cut, 2014 is just another date on our calendar, and each day we will continue to grow and help those around us live happier and peaceful lives.
Life is the longest adventure we all embark on, and I plan on making it the greatest adventure I could ever fathom. Here’s to 2014 folks, but more importantly, here’s to the continuation of our adventure and the well-being and spiritual happiness to you all.