Barbara Emrys


Early in January a few years ago, someone asked me if I’d made any New Year’s resolutions. It had been a long time since I’d heard that kind of question, so I suppose I didn’t hear the unspoken invitation to look back on my past and to judge myself. I answered quickly and cheerfully. ‘No, everything is pretty much resolved.’

The man who asked the question seemed genuinely stunned. I realized in that moment that I had missed my cue. I was supposed to have listed a few things about Barbara that needed changing. I was supposed to have played the interactive game of remorse, regret and low expectations for the coming year. I was supposed to tell the story of good intentions being brought down by bad habits. But to me resolution only means that conflicts get resolved and wars are won. This happens in the present, not the past.

We are practicing historians, however. We talk about the past in every conversation and in all our private mental narratives. We take fresh experiences and recount them over and over again until they lose authenticity. We review bygone years as if they were relevant to this spanking new moment and by doing so we make the present stale and predictable. We are the free-lance reporters and documentary film makers of our own lives, and the scripts will stay the same until we change the way we see.

Profound revelations can change our point of view, and if we find we have an appetite for revelation the changes happen fast. You could say that every glimpse of truth causes a disturbance in our personal ways of thinking and behaving. Truth can cause a series of small tremors or it can shock the entire belief system into awareness. With every shock, there is an emotional reaction and an impulse for the mind to return to normal – quickly recalling what it knows by digging into the archives of old ideas.

Maybe in the coming year some of you will arrive at a different kind of resolution. Maybe you will feel the wonderful impact of truth in some random, eternal instant and resolve not to look away from it. Maybe you will resist the immediate urge to reconstitute the experience so that it fits old perceptions. Maybe you won’t consult the history books and maybe you won’t look back.

Whenever you can, let the truth carry you into unknown moments and unmapped territory and continue the journey. Don’t stop to tell yourself what just happened. Don’t look back. Lift off into other atmospheres. Every encounter with the truth can take you high, high into awareness and free you from history’s gravitational pull. Every surprise revelation has the power to make you new. Every undefended moment can set you loose into mystery…and mystery is where all things are pretty much resolved.

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