Sunday, January 1, 2012

Peaceful Side of the Street

Happy New Year! Happy 2012! We're a dozen years into the new millennium which long ago lost the luster the start of a fresh batch of years brings. There's been a lot of water over the dam as you consider all that's happened since.

Yet in some ways, if you don't think too hard, it can seem just yesterday that 2000, with all its zeroes to challenge the computers, was ushered in.

Those millennial celebrations were watched on TV to huge audiences. I recall the relief as the lights stayed on, first in New Zealand and Sydney, and then west across the time zones as the new year eventually arrived on American shores.

This year has its own set of watchers but most of us aren't in that particular audience. We're not looking for the end of the world with 2012 but the start or continuation of better times.

Among those in the latter camp, perhaps, might be our neighbors. They lit off firecrackers at the stroke of twelve.

The salvo of salutes was a compact display. It was circumspect but with a distinct sense of merrymaking which pleased me.

This morning, the ground covered in white, it occurred to me that last night's falling snow possibly muffled the sound effects from down the street. Snow can act as a blotter giving a sense of quietness to even a New Year's Eve party scene.

Absorbing the picture today's white yard makes I caught movement in the tree boughs. A white feathery bird with wide wing span came out of nowhere to alight on a branch. My mind identified it as a snowy owl even though I don't think this area is in its range.

It gave the impression of being soft and feathery. It seemed such a creature of winter and snow.

It flew off before I could come to any further decision about the bird. I'll stick with it being an owl. I like to think it came to bring wisdom for the new year.

Maybe it was the peacefulness embodied in the strong confident flight of this unknown bird that caused the word peace to stand out in a story I read next.

I was skimming through the Parade supplement of our Sunday newspaper, dipping into articles here and there as you do when at your most leisurely. I was willing to stop when something sounded relevant. The article, "Up Your Gratitude," had that kind of promise to it.

The article was written by John Kralik, author of A Simple Act of Gratitude. The book, published in 2010 and now in paperback, tells about his year of writing thank-you notes. This ambitious project followed a resolve Kralik made in 2008 to write a thank you note to a different person every day.

That's 365 thank yous in one year - or even 366. (The year 2008, like this year of 2012, is a Leap Day year.) A thank you a day for a year is a lot of gratitude being expressed.

This is the line that caught my attention. Kralik writes, and I quote him, "I can say I keep learning that gratitude is a path to the peace we all seek."

I can't think of anything better than using this profound observation to shape our new year. Gratitude most certainly is a path to the peace each one of us, at some level, even perhaps hidden from us, hungers for.

Peace, in this upside down, topsy-turvy and beleaguered world, is too often regarded as an unobtainable goal, an impossibility or a dream. It will be if we don't each of us do what we can to steer the world to the peaceful side of the street.

If peace begins with each of us gratitude is an excellent place to begin. What are you thankful for? Who are you thankful for? See it. Say it. Write it.

When one begins to wonder when and how peace will ever come we can look at it as a personal investment. We do well to take it as our responsibility -not someone else's.

Peace begins inside, with gratitude and certainly with hope. We start with ourselves and work outward for peace to come.

Ro Giencke - January 1, 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment