New Year's Day has come and gone.
Many people I know shared their new year reflections and resolutions online, along with "best nine" photo collages. You may have written your own too. This is a uniquely human thing to do. We're meaning-making creatures. We interpret the events that happen in our lives and tell stories to make sense of our experiences.
I must confess that I read their new year messages with envy because I struggle to think of my own. I feel like I should know what lesson(s) to distill from 2018, or what message to leave to my future self at the end of 2019, but I don't. I wonder if my new year message will be relevant to anyone else, or even to myself a few months down the road.
Perhaps the trick is to write/read these new year messages as snapshots or journal entries, instead of as summaries. Not everyone will be able to fully understand or identify with it, but hopefully some of my experiences might strike a chord, and that can be the start of a meaningful conversation.
In a way, that's what Smol Tok tries to do. The questions do not demand that we come up with a perfect answer or model response. Instead, they invite people to leave a journal entry - to discover what is true for themselves in this moment, or share the unfolding stories of their lives. I hope that we can be present in the here and now, with the people in front of us, without making any assumptions or hastily stereotyping who they are or could become. I could learn to extend this same generosity to myself.
Henry Pang is the long lost king of Ayutthaya.
So instead of a new year message, I want to invite you on a new year adventure! Whenever you meet someone new or don't know very well, whether at the workplace or a wedding, assume from the start that he/she has a really interesting story to tell; try asking questions to bring that out and see where the conversation leads.
Photo by Bram Naus