Monday, August 24, 2009
The new academic year is a time of new beginnings, turning over a new leaf, making a fresh start. There’s been a lot of attention lately to the idea of what can be done in a year. Blogs, books, and movies like:
- Julie and Julia, and the blog that inspired the book and the movie,
- the year of living Oprah,
- the year of documenting and living with all the trash one produces,
- the year of living in accordance with all rules in the Bible,
- the year of a heterosexual married couple having sex every day….or for just 101 days.
Quite a wide range of ways to spend and document one year. So much can be accomplished in a year. So here is my challenge to you as the academic year begins: live this year in accordance with what is most important to you. Do you already have that list set in your head? Would it help to take a minute, take a breath, slow down and say “what really is important to me?” As I see it, the answers (yes, there are more than one!) are about intentionality - so that means making sure you ask the questions!
What are the values you hold dear? What is most important to you? By what principles or guidelines do you make important decisions? What are your priorities? Think about it, and then challenge yourself to live by them each day, for the next year. It might sound interesting, or fun, or even dangerous.
So, if sustainability is important to you, and you see room for improvement – speak up. If you seek ways to find opportunities to do good, and are able to do a small kindness asked of you – do it. If someone makes a racial, or religious, or anti-gay slur – say something. If creating community is important to you, make eye contact and share a smile with someone you walk past on the quad. If being helpful is important to you - help someone find the building they’re looking for if they look lost. If taking time for yourself to really focus on what you’re learning is important to you - carve out the time for self reflection.
Simply put, make a difference in the world – make your difference to the world. As Maggie Kuhn said, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes”. It can feel exhilarating. It can feel new. It can feel dangerous.
The Year of Living Dangerously is also a film. It includes a fabulous Oscar-winning performance by Linda Hunt in a unique, gender-bending role. Probably a scary thing, for an actress to take on such a complicated, interesting character, especially in 1983. Check out the trailer at the end of this post, or borrow it from the college library to see why film critics praised her incredible performance.
This post is totally not about the film…but it’s a great film. And its title inspired me to write this post.
Make this your year of living dangerously. Live each day as if those who are most important to you – family, mentor, hero - are watching, or living life right alongside you. Live in accordance with your compass. Live on the edge. Try it. One day at a time. Each day. They’ll string together.
And soon enough you’ll have 101 or 311 or 406 stories, acts, days, interactions and experiences filled with integrity, truth and the expression of who you are as an intentional and thoughtful person in a world that is too commonly mindless and without a compass. And heck, then you could blog about it!
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