A New Years’ Reflection: Commitments not Resolutions

Dave Pollard portrait 6
This is the time of year for making ‘resolutions’ for the new year. The word resolve originally meant to dissolve or untie, to free from chains (the word solve originally meant to loosen — apparently to the inventors of our civilized languages, lack of freedom was the only real ‘problem’). While we do need to free ourselves, what we need more today, I think, is something stronger: We need commitments. The word commitment means ‘to send oneself over’, a permanent, one-way trip to Let-Self-Change. By this definition, a commitment unkept is an oxymoron, a mere failed resolution.

For me, this has been a year of momentous personal change: I got sick, and cured myself, changed careers and lifestyle and got myself into the best condition since my 20s; I learned some important lessons about indigenous cultures and the Great Depression; and I concluded that what we need to do to save the world is more about Let-Self-Change and about creating ‘working models’ of better ways to live, than about bringing about radical political or economic revolution (which is, I now believe, an impossible dream).

These changes came about because I had no other choice: We do what we must. Had I not made the commitment to personal health, I would probably be either dead or useless today. Had I not learned and changed my ideas about saving the world I would probably have given up blogging and either sunk into a terminal depression or been arrested for some fruitless extreme act. Now it is time for me to make some commitments, not resolutions, to act on my evolving social, political and economic understanding and beliefs. I have learned to free up time for what is urgent, and now I must apply that learning to free up time, and energy, for what is important.

So here are my commitments for 2007:

  • I will find the necessary sponsors and partners to successfully launch the Canadian Centre for Entrepreneurship, an organization to promote the establishment of Natural Enterprises, and make this my ‘full time’ job.
  • I will find the necessary sponsors and partners to bring together and host an Open Space event on Preparing for Civilization’s End, that will ultimately spawn ‘working models’ for post-civilization society (Intentional Communities, Natural Enterprises, a Generosity Economy, a curriculum on Understanding Gaia & How the World Works, Finding Partners & Real Social Networking, Let-Self-Change and Radical Simplicity). These models will be fun to work on.
  • I will find at least ten more people with whom I would like to live in community, and will spend at least four hours per week in genuine conversation with such people, opening, paying attention, listening, learning, and Letting-Myself-Change.
  • I will spend at least four hours per week in silent undistracted contemplation, as much of it as possible in natural places. PucPuc has taught me how much you can learn without uttering or hearing a word.

To make time for these commitments, I will spend less time trying to convince others, in writing and in debate, of anything they are not yet ready to believe. This blog already contains lots of material for those who are ready to partner with me and with others in activities like those noted above, and I will endeavour to make the blog’s future content less evangelical and more useful (and it will likely be less analytical and more narrative).

And I will be spending less time reading, especially reading newspapers. Looking at the ‘news’ of the past year, I’m hard put to find anything (even the trouncing of the Republicans in the recent US election) that will really matter to any of us in five years. The ‘news’ is mostly useless information, entertainment designed to distract us from what is really important.

We do what we must, then we do what’s easy, and then we do what’s fun. We live in a terrible world where there are many things that must be done, but few that must necessarily be done by any designated individual or group, so these imperatives mostly don’t get done by anyone. I’m accepting a responsibility to make some of these collective ‘musts’ my own. To do the same, all you have to do is free up the time from other personal ‘musts’. This is easier, I’ve learned, than you might think. Just make a commitment, an intention, and begin. Even better, find and get together with others of like mind and take it on as a shared responsibility.

Yesterday morning, as I was outside running, I heard two chickadees uttering their plaintive three-note song, alternately, and then, astonishingly and improbably, in lovely and perfect unison. Even they sounded surprised, and went back hastily to alternate songs. And then they sang again, precisely together. After the second stanza, they were silent for a long time. In fact, everything suddenly became silent. It was almost as if every creature was taking note of this discovery, this synchronicity, this perfect andunexpected harmony.

Silence the noise of the machine in your head, and pay attention, and discover and learn wondrous things. And when you’re ready, ‘send yourself over’.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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14 Responses to A New Years’ Reflection: Commitments not Resolutions

  1. chosha says:

    Enjoy this epiphany. I hope all that positive energy really does translate into the realisation of your best objectives.

  2. I REALLY needed to read this this morning. Thanks so much for a wonderfully deep, insightful and honest sharing of your commitments. You’ve given me a lot to think about and I’m grateful.

  3. Earl says:

    Hi Dave,Very inspiring and thought-provoking blog. With that said, here’s my commitment list for 2007:Continue to devote time to developing a personal relationship with my Creator.Continue on this journey of life by preparation for eternal life.Need to take time each day for personal reflection/introspection.Develop ways to organize my life – personal and business.Use time more efficiently.Learn to love/care/give more.Worry less and develop ways to live a (less) stressful life.Focus on the important things (values) in life.Continue along the path to gaining wisdow and sharing knowledge.

  4. CG says:

    came here through lichenology, don’t know your history or background or path. But. One doesn’t find like minded people then build a community — community is built upon people doing. I know because I live in one and it took years of doing to find it. It was here all along btw.If you have to be paid, if it has to turn into a “job”, well, it just might not be worth doing. My philosophy — need very little money and be able to get that from anywhere (temp jobs, cleaning, mowing, making and selling something useful, etc). Then community is free. Well, community is always free, and it is in religion that a guru extorts money from “sponsors and partners”.actually do not mean to sound harsh but trying to express complex thought succinctly can seem that way. Best wishes for the new year and may lots of things be resolved.

  5. Carroll says:

    Happy New Year, Dave, and thanks for the inspiration you’ve provided during the one just passed.

  6. David Parkinson says:

    Sounds like good stuff. I’m pretty upbeat about 2007 — no, make that VERY upbeat about it. It feels like it could be the year that people started swapping illusions for actions. Ever-larger numbers of people are starting out on the path that will lead many of them to simplicity, self-sufficiency, skepticism, and community. Not sure any of us will get there in time, but it’s better to be headed somewhere than dithering, waiting for our elected leaders to save our asses.Thanks for some great thought-provocation in 2006. Here’s to a good 2007 for us all.

  7. Chris Bassoo says:

    Chris Bassoo, I would like to wish everyone a very safe and happy new year, 2007 can be the best year of our lives, it just takes the positive focus of energy and the ability to help others, both pysically and emotionally, be a great friend and be with family

  8. Nancy White says:

    Dave, I’m sending you lots of beams to support you in your committments for the year. I’ve also forwarded the message to some people who might be part of that community you seek to work/play with.Happy new YearNancy

  9. Zane says:

    Lovely post, David–I beleive the knowledge of what we must do arises from an apprehension of reality and of life. To really know our own lives is to perceive that they are part of some larger unfolding. I realize this sounds evangelical, as I write it, but I don’t intend it in this way–it is knowledge that comes from a grounding in a human body, in a particular place, in a particular community. Your commitments make a lot of sense to me and I look forward to the stories of how they play out.zane

  10. caractacus says:

    Just found this blog. Sounds like your heart’s in the right place. What you’re talking about is how places like http://www.cat.org.uk got started, so more power to you.

  11. caractacus says:

    that’s obviously sustainable power I’m talking about, not the other kind :)

  12. Pearl says:

    Sounds like a lot of positive change under the belt and well placed to leverage that to greater positive effect.Do you think zaadz.com/ or http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/ show promise to you in the community and entrepeneurship front respectively?Love the synchronous chickadees.

  13. Pearl says:

    Meant to add, the way thr photo is framed to give a 3D window effect is cool too.

  14. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks everyone, for your kind thoughts, good ideas and reflections of your own. Caractacus, thanks for the link; I have lots of relatives in Cymru so next time I visit I will be sure to stop by — I’d like to get their thoughts on how CAT could serve as a replicable model for ICs. Pearl: I’m a fan both of the Zaadsters and Pamela Slim, and think they’re a step in the right direction, but Zaadz is (like me) still at the talking not doing stage, while I’d like to see Pamela link up with a bunch of others and create a more robust entrepreneurial incubator and show how much more effective a partnership is than a proprietorship.

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