The holidays and New Year are here. We’re warned that each year goes faster than the one before, and this year seems to have disappeared in a blink of an eye. Not only have 2002 New Year’s resolutions not been kept, but I’ve not had time to remember them with any guilt. Thoughts of world peace have made us anxious, consumer spending and confidence have eroded, personal and business financial planning, for most of us, has been put on hold. For what, then, can we reflect and give thanks for the year now spent and the one ahead?

Health. We so take for granted the simplest of daily tasks—our ability to sit, walk, eat, breathe, hear, see…only through temporary loss, such as the diagnosis of an illness, physical pain from an injury, etc., do we realize how fortunate we are, indeed, to attend to routine daily functions. Getting dressed, driving to work or the grocery store, cooking a meal, holding a baby, and kissing a cheek, are ordinary things that would be missed if poor health kept us from doing them.

Family. They love us. They remember our special days, they care about our routine days, and they share everything with us.

Friends. We laugh together, we cry together, we talk, we have fun together, we share experiences.

Work. It’s a most rewarding experience to wake up with purpose in the morning, to know you are depended upon by someone. Long hours and challenges are job security, I tell my friends and family; be thankful for work.

I was introduced to a book recently that many Arts Alive! readers probably have already studied and perhaps “changed their culture.” Reading Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom, can be a life-changing experience unless you were already fortunate enough to be totally at peace with life.

The “coach” tells readers that to finding a meaningful life you must devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. He suggests “the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own. Offer others what you have to give—time.” Rarely do we live well because we get so caught up in the material culture.

As we enter 2003, I hope to remember the lessons learned from a wise coach who continues to help others lead a happy, satisfying life. Making peace with living puts life in the proper perspective. I look forward to the new year, thankful for health, family, friends, work, and community. I challenge myself this new year that if my immediate “culture” isn’t satisfying, then I must change it. That may mean making choices that were previously called New Year’s resolutions—more time with loved ones, more music, more reading, more time for spiritual reflection, exercising, dieting—all are really changes in attitude—or a change in culture.

Happy New Year. AA!