Saturday, January 1, 2011

Non-resolutions in a new year

I don't make New Year's resolutions. I don't like the pressure. Making a New Year's resolution has always seemed pretty artificial to me. Just because the number on the end of the date is changing doesn't mean that I am -- or rather, that I will! A new year really has nothing to do with it. If plain-old self-discipline doesn't make me do what I know I should, how is a new number in a date going to stir up the needed motivation to be disciplined?

When I was in Tbilisi a few days ago, I went into an English bookstore. For one thing, I love bookstores! And when my friend James and I happened across the only English bookstore in the city, just for the sake of looking at something that didn't make me sound like a kindergartener while sounding out the words, we went in. After looking around and wishing I could buy one of everything I wanted to read, I settled on a few small books - one of which was Charles Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol. I have seen the play many times, but I can't remember ever reading the story. So on the bus ride back to Zugdidi (while it was still light), I read.

I love the way Dickens writes. His word-choice and attention to detail create exquisite pictures in my mind. The way he describes a scene or a character or even a gesture paints images that come to life as the words touch upon my consciousness. I can actually feel the cold blast when Marley first appears in Scrooge's house. The warmth that surrounds Bob Cratchit's hearth on Christmas night while Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present look on permeates my being. The scent of the food Dickens describes reaches my nostrils. Dickens exhibits a power over words that fully captivates me. (If you haven't read any Dickens lately, I suggest you do. And A Christmas Carol is a nice, short read!)

I know the story of Scrooge and his reluctant self-reflection. Like I said, I have seen the play in many variations many times. But in light of my new surroundings and lack of Home, I am taking the story to heart in a whole new way.

People are the only thing (for lack of a better word - I know we're not "things") that matter in this world. Touching other's lives with my own is what will make a lasting impression and change the world for the better. Sharing my life and my faith in a way that shows others that I care about them individually will go much further than any monetary action. And although I know this, in the last few years, I haven't lived my life this way. My tendency to be selfish with my time and energy has won out over the generosity that I know is right. Like Scrooge, I've been stingy.

So, there, on a bus to Zugdidi, reading about Scrooge and his realization that generosity is not just good, but necessary, I decided to adopt the same. It seems that God keeps bringing this idea of generosity to my attention. Thankfully, it's been through things like this book, the Georgian culture, and Tea's tireless work - not transparent, chain-toting ghosts who whisk me away across the wintry countryside of my past, present, and future Christmases. Maybe the things that I'm seeing are just coincidence, but I doubt it. (Einstein said that coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.) So instead of continuing in my stubborn, hard-headed, selfish nature, I'll listen to the message that I'm hearing.

But I'm not making any "resolutions."

1 comment:

  1. Eger, yes, good choice with A Christmas Carol! I too read it recently for the first time. To date, the only Dickens I had read was the first half of Great Expectations while at Dock (one of the few I just couldn't finish). I love Scrooge's repeated question -- as he looks into his future near the end -- of whether the things he's seeing are inevitable, or whether he has the ability to alter his future. Though we obviously can't "see the future" like Scrooge did, we are given the opportunity every day, I believe, to re-imagine our future. It's the "choice" God has given us. Thank you, Dickens for this reminder. And thank you, Eger for your interpretation and unabashed honesty! -sheldon