--Marty McFly, from "Back to the Future"
So here's my New Year's 2015 fantasy: I want to travel back in time to exactly one year ago, to the close of 2014, and talk to my past self. Give "me" some advice. I want to pull a Marty McFly and jump back into time. If God or the universe or fate gave me a 2014 "do-over" I readily confess I'd do things differently. I think most of us would too. In reviewing the last 365 days, we all remember moments when we wish we'd made another choice. Taken an alternate route on life's journey, a left rather than a right. Answered "no" rather than "yes" or "yes" when "no" was the right response. Had the chance again to say "I love you" because we didn't have the guts or the smarts or the courage to do so.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
The season of New Year's is a rare time in life when humans can intentionally look back and look ahead. Resolve to change our lives going forward. Face how we lived the past 52 weeks. So if you had the gift of being strapped into a time traveling Delorean, and visiting your past self for a spiritual pep talk, what might you say? How would you re-do 2014?
Me? I'd absolutely tell myself to worry a less. A LOT LESS! To instead trust that God and life so much of the time works out, that most human anxiety is a complete waste of time, an empty exercise in creating overwhelmingly negative outcomes that rarely if ever come true. That so often when we worry, it is about people and situations over which we have little or no control. I so regret how much precious time I wasted in 2014, mired in my worry. Fearing what others were thinking. Brooding about this possible scenario, that doomsday event! Sleepless nights. Distracted days. And guess what? Almost always, whatever I was angsting about did not happen. And all those hours I spent in worry: all gone, never to return.
Memo to self: next year, worry less and trust God more.
I'd also tell my past self to spend less time online in the cyber world, and more time off line, in the real world. In 2014, too often I was guilty of mindlessly looking at my phone or surfing the net or watching YouTube videos or scrolling through Facebook or waiting for a text. When I was bored, or waiting or unable to just "be", I inevitably reached for my techno-addiction. Found myself in a crowd or at a gathering or in a public space surrounded by like minded cyber zombies. Heads tilted down. Fingers swiping across a screen. Eyes intently focused upon the "latest" on Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram. Meanwhile, real life connections-- face to face and heart to heart and voice to voice--seem rarer and rarer. How many thousands of minutes did I lose last year to life in the virtual world? Days, weeks perhaps.
Memo to self: next year, live more in the real world, live less in the cyber world.
Lastly, I'd tell my past self to talk less and listen more. To pontificate and judge others less, and instead be more curious in life, especially about folks and ideas and lifestyles I may see as "different" than me. It's been a tumultuous 2014, filled with so many conflicts, fears and anger, grounded in a "them" versus "us" narrative. Humanity split wide open. Wars in the Ukraine and Israel/Palestine and throughout the Middle East. Cruel, so-called "religious" people using their ideas of God to condemn, to oppress, to kill, even the innocent. Racial divisions and mistrust.
Too often I've waded into these complicated affairs with my opinion which I also insist on sharing with anyone who will listen. My prayer for me and the rest of humankind in the year to come is that we'd open our mouths less and open our ears more. That we'd have the wisdom to think before we speak. That not every single opinion needs to be posted or blogged or proffered. That God-inspired humility, not hubris, is what our world really needs.
Memo to self: talk less and listen more. Practice curiosity and humility.
We may not be able to time travel and give our past selves advice about how to live a better life, repeat 2014. But this week we've been given the gift of 365 new days, a whole new year, another God given chance to try again.
Memo to self: how will you live in 2015? What did 2014 teach you? You don't need a Delorean to answer those questions.
Happy New Year.