Mid-Month New Year's Words and Intentions

Friday, 11 January 2013

I do not subscribe to New Year's resolutions.  They have this ring of built-in perfectionism around them that says that your execution of resolved new habit must be on time, first time, every time, all the time.  Perfectly executed.

What a ridiculous way to start a year.  Especially for a perfectionist.  No thanks!

It seems intentions are the new resolutions in many people's books.  Intentions give an indication that you are pointing in a particular direction but allow for sideways twists and ankle sprains and real life.  Intentions are much softer, less ego-bound.

My intention this year is kindness.  Especially, kindness in the midst of suffering.  A friend of mine, a practising Buddhist, is my guru in this area.  Regardless of what is happening, despite mishaps and bad days and mini meltdowns, she manages to find the peace ledge to sit and watch the swirling waves from.  It is the most admirable of traits, one earned by discipline.

And so my kindness intention is especially for those times when I am feeling bad.  There are a collection of swirly compactions that live around the space of feeling bad.  It's not that I intentionally take out my feeling bad on other people.  It's more that the Gaping Void moans in and takes over and everything is horrible.  The Gaping Void, however, has a few little minor issues with knowing when to stop eating, however.  Poor old Gaping Void.  All you can do, really, is give him a hug.

The kindness intention radiates inwards while it radiates outwards. 

For the past few years to mark a new calendar year I have also chosen a word that calls to me somehow, that encompasses what I hope for for the next year.  I love this approach.  It is suitably vague enough that my mysterious innards are able to surprise my mind with twists and turns with it over the space of a year.  Like a jigsaw puzzle that some of me knows about and the rest of me doesn't.

What I really wanted to do was to attach my word to a piece of crafting in some way.  Like the collage that The Pollinatrix made for her word for the year, for example, or the way Kel creates a visual journal around her word for the year.  But I haven't quite got there yet, and it's already almost the middle of the month.

But anyway, despite that, my word for this next year is transmute.

Transmute.  It feels rather less romantic a word than its stablemate, transform, and when it first came to me I wasn't quite sure if I was happy with my choice, even though it had that bubbly sort of resonance that is always a good indicator of stickability.  But then I ran across it in two separate pieces of writing I read over subsequent days, and so synchronicity sticks it to me. 

And anyway, I love the alchemical allusions of the word.  The Collins English Dictionary listing at The Free Dictionary defines transmute as: 
1. to change the form, character, or substance of
2. (Chemistry / Alchemy) to alter (an element, metal, etc.) by alchemy.


How about you?  Anything you do to mark the passing of one calendar year into another?

Ted Chiang's "Alchemist's Gate" by Hidenori Watanave


  1. transmute - what a wonderful word
    may it unfold in unexpected ways offering you many opportunities to adventure beyond your wildest dreams

  2. My intention - take nothing personally. I'm only a figment of my fevered imagination anyway. I might latch on to a word at some point, to focus that. 'Transmute' has a beautiful sound - I'll see if I can come up with something as euphonious:)

  3. Thank you for this post on the intention of kindness, Sue, Beautiful.

    When I was young and crazy, and messing up my life, I happened to get into some writings by the French philosopher Simone Weil, whose deepest reasoning was focused on forgiveness. Weil taught this one rule of compassion, she said, no matter what happens, "just go right on loving." She related a true story about a boy who accidently broke the mother's prized, antique vase. The mother was so upset she scolded the child. Sometime later the boy died of illness, and every time the mother remembered the scolding, she would collapse in tears for her son. I will never get that teaching out of my mind, it's always there reminding, "just go right on loving."

  4. Thank you, Kel. May your year ripen all over the place so that you have to give it away ... or bottle it :)

  5. That's a lovely intention, Harry. There's a lot of freedom in that :)

    Euphonious - great word! :)

  6. That's lovely. But then of course the next lesson for that woman would surely be to remember the scolding without collapsing in tears because she has gone right on loving herself as well, would it not? :)

    I haven't read any Simone Weil. Is she most suitable for young, crazy people, or can old crazy people get something out of her too? :) (Actually, every time I've come across her I've thought I must read her. I'm putting her on my reading list now).

  7. Sounds like a Dickens character... Euphonius Snark, or the like:)

  8. Haha, it does. I wonder what sort of a character Euphonious Snark would be? Sounds like he has a few clashing elements to his personality :)

  9. Especially if he's a Boojum. Intriguing, to say the least:)

  10. What be's a Boojum????

  11. From The Hunting of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll, Sue -

    "The *boojum* is a particular variety of snark, which causes the baker at the end of the poem to 'softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met with again.' "

    I'm sure that makes everything clear:)

  12. You have to be strong to read Simone Weil, she's so challenging, so difficult to hang in with. Her best book to me is called "Waiting for God." She was wealthy but chose to work in a factory where the hours were incredibly long and the conditions horrendous. She ruined her health trying to do that, all because she wanted to be able to identify with the poor. When I got into her stuff, compassion wasn't anything I understood. She broke me open, like your posts do too sometimes, and like the vase. I'll be in your country all next week via the telly for the Australian Open. The TennisChannel here has been touring Melbourne, in preparation — it seems a diversified, international city, and with gorgeous parks (like NYC).

    Pics of Weil and some Interesting links here:

  13. Thanks for that. Wow, she sounds amazing!! Glad to be "hosting" you this week for the Australian Open. I am getting over a bout of gastroenteritis so spent ALL DAY yesterday watching the tennis :)

  14. Haha. Indeed. Clear as mud. I might have to read it :)


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