My 2016 began with an early morning hike on a mountain trail. Just me with my dog, a grey ghost named Trek. Over the holiday season, our region received mounds of snow. A few unseasonably warm days, however, turned it into ice sheets on the well-traveled trail. No problem! Midway through the hike I reached for my microspikes, a chain-and-barb contraption that slips onto my shoes for better traction.
I love those microspikes! They’ve given me the extra grip I’ve needed to hike up and down a lot of hills this winter.
But not on this day. On this day I forgot to bring them. A realization I unfortunately had halfway up the mountain.
Trek had no trouble zigzagging across the trail with his built-in “microspike-like” claws. I, on the other hand, was wary. A tense-with-every-step wary to help me brace for an inevitable fall. Yet I was also determined. A husband and hot breakfast were waiting for me in a restaurant at the trail’s end.
I skidded more than a few times on the ice, paused to take stock of my precarious situation, and then chose to get off the trail where everyone else had been. Away from it there was fresh snow my shoes could dig into. Making my own path in the snow required more effort, but it was infinitely more enjoyable. Without feeling tethered to the trail – or negotiating ice patches – my body relaxed and my sense of adventure kicked in.
My hike felt like a great metaphor for launching this year. Instead of taking the path trekked by others – or my routines of the past – what other possibilities could I explore for growth, positive impact, joy, and wellbeing?
Reflecting on this question, the answer that rises to the top for me hinges on relationships and connection. I’m fueled by an intention in 2016 to work (and play!) with people who want to build a world in which everyone thrives. The kind of people I’m talking about realize changing the outer world for the better is first and foremost a change from within. Yet, given the interdependencies that make up our lives today, they also know healthy relationships are key for transforming the world as well as ourselves; we can expand our sense of being and amplify each other’s gifts with a scale rarely equaled when we go it solo. These people are also less concerned with traditional New Year’s resolutions and more eager to take on New Year’s revolutions, a distinction coined by educator Palmer Parker to mean saying “yes” to that which evolves a well, humane, and sustainable world while saying “no” to that which creates division and marginalizes people and the planet.
In this spirit, I’m moved by the words of a namesake – a “René” much wiser than I’ll ever be – poet René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke. His name is a mouthful so most people know him simply as Rilke:
Again and again some people in the crowd wake up.
They have no ground in the crowd, and they emerge according to broader laws.
They carry strange customs with them, and they demand room for bold and audacious action.
The future speaks ruthlessly through them. They change the world.
For me this path into 2016 feels worthwhile. What is a path worthy of you this year?