Have you ever been to the Four Corners Monument, marking the place where four states meet? The quadripoint where a corner of New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Colorado meet also marks the boundary between two Native American governments, Navaho Nation and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation. As you drive across the country, through hundreds of miles of stunning desert wilderness, signs begin to appear along the highway, saying, Four Corners! Four Corners! And the closer you get, the bigger the signs are, and the more often they pop up.
Do you remember the cartoon where a car driving through an empty countryside passes a billboard proclaiming, “Your own tedious thoughts next 200 miles”? In the sometimes monotony of long-distance driving, it’s easy to get excited: “I’m going to Four Corners! Can’t wait to get there!”
Then you get there. It is exactly the same rugged, remote, and isolated Southwestern desert landscape you’ve been driving through for hundreds of miles before. There’s nothing there! It’s an idea in emptiness, Four Corners. Just a bronze plaque and parking lot overlooking the vast sweep of mesa and mountains. It’s beautiful. But not more beautiful or any different from the sweeping land of boulder heaps, sandstone formations, shallow cliffs and rolling mesa seen through the windshield for hours and miles before.
New Year’s is like this. It’s the New Year in the culture, it’s in the air. There is a sense of a fresh start, rich with possibilities, despite our fears. And yet…it’s a complete illusion. In fact, we’re in the very same stream of life and consciousness that we were in the old year—only the landscape of our life is called the New Year now! Happy New Year!
We can use this holiday (& other conceptual calendar demarcations) to reflect on our intentions and make choices about how we’re going to be. During his years as a single Dad, the Buddha often told his son: “Use your actions as a mirror to reflect where you’re at in your life.” Our behavior becomes an open book—for the way we behave is an expression of the state of our mind, body, and heart. As we consider taking action (an action can be a thought, word or deed), we can be mindful of our intention and motivations. From Juan Mascaro: “Watch the thought and its ways with care; may they spring forth from love, born of compassion for all beings.” In this Way, may we all enjoy a truly HAPPY NEW YEAR.