I never can fully relate to traditional celebrations of New Year's Eve - the noise, the various intoxications, the loud celebration of . . . what? Chasing away the demons, I suppose.
I prefer to invoke the angels. Time passing, something new dawning. It's a profound time, replete with opportunity for reflection best performed in quiet.
The first self-help book I ever read was "The Road Less Traveled," M. Scott Peck's 1978 classic on how we humans tend to avoid our problems and the pain inherent in them.
Instead of facing the "legitimate suffering" needed to go through them, we rationalize, we deny, we build elaborate fantasies, we become addicted, anything but delay gratification, accept responsibility and commit to the truth at all costs.
Then, our suffering becomes all about neurosis, infinitely more troubling than the original wound. We become stuck.
"Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life," Peck says. Some people stop updating their inner maps in adolescence, he says, and their view of the world remains narrow. Most cease by middle age. Rare are those who lead "a life of continuous and never-ending self-examination" and willingness to be personally challenged, those who keep remaking their maps until the final hour.
I hope to be one of the latter. I find myself now accepting new reality, facing higher responsibilities, and acknowledging that typing with carpal tunnel syndrome is killing me. (New Year's resolution: master voice recognition software.) I am redoing my own inner map.
As part of that process, I am leaving behind the delightful opportunity to write for you every week in The Maui News. This is the last "Keiki o ka 'Aina" column for this newspaper, although I may be moved to post occasional new ones or other reflections on my blog at laurelmurphysmaui.blogspot.com with the aim of collecting them into a book. Stay tuned.
So thank you to the editors of the paper who gave me the great opportunity to share Maui's history and my own sensibilities with you for two years. And especially to you, the readers, who embraced me, informed me, insulted me and enlightened me.
I appreciate your plaudits and your protests, and all the ways you shared yourselves. Let's find another way to stay in touch.
New Year's Eve is the time for blessings, so I asked some Maui sages to extend theirs.
From Father Gary Colton, retired pastor of Maria Lanakila Church in Lahaina: "Our planet Earth is such an infinitesimal part of the universe. Yet, we have so many heartfelt problems with wars, natural disasters, personal conflicts, etc., etc. So, may the New Year bring us less tensions and so much more peace and justice."
From Episcopal priest the Rev. Amy Crowe: "May the spirit of peace, love and joy help us to relinquish the past and step forward embracing hope in the new year."
From Rabbi David E. Glickman of the Jewish Congregation of Maui: "Treat others as you yourself want to be treated."
From John A. Hau'oli Tomoso, Kahuna Pule o Kahekili of the Royal Order of Kamehameha: "E ho'onani 'ia ke Akua ma na lani ki'eki'e loa! Glory to God in the highest! As glory shows all around, let us rejoice in all that we see, know, think and say. Let God's glory shine through us, in the new year and always."
From John Hara, minister of Wailuku Jodo Mission: "Let us welcome the New Year with appreciation and gratitude. Let us reflect with thoughts of love for our loved ones and ancestors. Let this be a year for mindful practice of being present, compassionate and understanding. May the compassionate light of Amida Buddha shine with you always. Namu Amida Butsu."
Now here are mine.
May we always see trucks loaded with farm produce trundling down Haleakala Highway. May the reservoirs be full and the trades blow. May the coffers of the Salvation Army and the Maui Food Bank swell. May the sharks retreat. May our leaders be just. May we always malama our precious 'aina.
May quarrels and wars be ended. May the the wicked come to their senses and the righteous prevail. May our health be good, may our hearts be glad, and may we know the divine essence within. May our deepest wishes come true.
And as the old Irish blessing goes, may the wind be always at our backs.