Monday, December 26, 2011

Wren's Day: Thoughts on Resolutions

Today, 26 December, in Ireland is the day of the Feast of St. Stephen, also called Wren's Day:

Celtic myth had it that the robin that was suppose to represent the New Year killed the wren which represented the Old Year during this time. Wren Boys blacken their faces and go from house to house asking for money to bury the wren. The money they collect is used to buy food and drink for the "wren dance" held on this night.

Many cultural traditions embrace this 'out with the old and in with the new' idea marking the New Year as this critical turning point. Many of us look back on the past year with mixed emotions, some good, some bad, - and we have a feeling that the year now passing was either generally good or generally bad. But we always look to the New Year with the hope that it will be better. The New Year holds this secret power allowing us to renew ourselves - We get to hit the 'restart' button.

I've been doing this blogging thing for almost a year. It's been an interesting experiment thus far. For one thing it keeps me writing, for another, it keeps me honest - with myself, mostly.

Last January I proclaimed my desire to qualify for the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon. I put it out there for anyone to see, and in a sense, put myself on the spot - What if I failed? What if I did not have the strength of will? What if it was shown that my ambitions far outreached my abilities?

In terms of running, I achieved what I set out to do. There's some satisfaction in that, to be sure. But running is easy. Life is not so easy. If I could bring to my life what I bring to running, that would be something else. So, this week I will spend some time thinking about what that means, and how to do it - And I will set some new running goals along the way. 

The notorious and much maligned German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, offers us an interesting idea when considering how to live our lives: Eternal Recurrence. To over simplify this idea it works something like this: Try to live your life in a way that you would wish to live it over and over, exactly the same, for all eternity. Oy! Now that's a tall order! And Nietzsche himself seems to have fallen far short of that lofty aspiration. But the truth of one's words and ideas is a separate issue from whether one measures up to those ideas.

In general I don't believe in making New Year's Resolutions, but I do believe that there are times to sit back and take stock...Now to think...and, I hope, to act...To be continued...


  1. That is a tall order indeed. I think that even if I was happy with how I've lived my life, I would want to try something different next time. But I'll make a note to myself not to come back as a wren; yikes!

  2. In the monastery we used to have "Review of Life" one Friday a month -- a time of taking stock. Not sure I was mature enough (age 22) to really appreciate it. These days, the once a year Al-Chet of Yom Kippur is helpful, but this guy needs it more often.

    I think I'm going to have (need) a few little birdie days in the coming weeks.


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