Friday, December 31, 2010



                            Ring out the old, ring in the new,
                            Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
                            The year is going, let him go;
                            Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Once again, we come to the threshold of a new year, the time-honored transitional point where we are expected to pause, consider our shortcomings, and institute new resolutions designed to insure that we reach the end of the year with the perfection of Greek gods. Studies have shown, however, that the vast majority of New Year's resolutions are soon abandoned.  Oscar Wilde once opined that "good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account."  In a similar vein,  Mark Twain quipped:
Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath.  Today, we are a pious and exemplary community.  Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings shorter than ever.
Perhaps it is a failure of character on my part, but I have seldom made New Year's resolutions.  The reason is quite simple:  If I need a cultural tradition or a calendar date to set me on the right path, it's highly unlikely that I will remain committed to that path.  I am not inclined, however, to be a complete cynic on this New Year's Day, so, in the spirit of joining the festival of resolution makers, I have decided to take a little resolution advice from the essayist John Burroughs and my old reliable friend, Mr. Tennyson.  Burroughs once stated that the only resolution he ever made and intended to keep was simply "to rise  above the little things," and Tennyson suggested that the best we can do is to simply "ring out the false" and "ring in the true."

Can you imagine what a wonderful world it would be if everyone could just rise above the little things in the coming year, eliminate everything that is false, and ring the bells of truth with every word and every action?  That is what I am going to try to accomplish in the coming year in my little corner of the world.  I would like to rise increasingly above the petty things that contribute nothing to either my well-being or the happiness of the world.  I would also like to intensify the life-long task of eradicating any parts of my life that seem false or inauthentic.  With luck, I will be able to ring out everything that is not truly believed in the little "rag and bone shop" of my heart.  With hope, I will be able to ring in only that which is true.



  1. Excellent thoughts and resolutions. I always tried to make resolutions I could keep. I think my most successful one was spending my pennies, all my change really, instead of letting them pile up. That lasted for years until I started saving my change again to divvy up between my grandkids.

    Rise above the small things. I like that. It's something I've been working on, trying to be kinder, more compassionate.

  2. George, your painting is a glory of 3D hope. I love it, it makes me feel so happy.

    The post feels very tight, in the best possible way. For one thing, you have already done so much to get your own house in order, that your stated goals of rising above petty things and ringing out the false in you are already accomplished to such a degree that I feel your ongoing attention to these things will not be too arduous. In fact, you have passed the practice on to me, for I have begun to let non-essentials go, which seems the same as rising above the petty.

    The colors, shapes and patterns of your painting sing to me and ring chimes for a new year of walking with you. Ring on, George! I'm with you.

  3. I Love this! Yes, a new opportunity to "ring out the false," and "ring in the true." A good way to move forward from here. Happy New Year, George!

    Onward and Upward!
    Buzz Lightyear

  4. I've been busy writing letters and e-mails over the last few days but plan to spend this weekend catching up with my blogging friends. I'm not a maker of resolutions either but I am given to writing lists of 'Things I Must Do! These do not include items like 'lose a stone in weight' or 'start running 5 miles a day'. I know my limitations:) A very Happy New Year to you George.

  5. I can think of no better guiding tenets for negotiating the year ahead. It's so often the petty things that bog us down, stand between us and what's good and worthwhile. Falsity, too, can wreak havoc within our lives. And the really sad part about all of this is that we empower both—pettiness and falsity. We decide to take that road…though nothing makes us do so except an unwillingness to follow the other path; we like to wallow in our humanness without exercising our humanity. Like Marley, we forge our chain link by link.

    I'm with you 100 percent on this one, my friend!

    May the road ahead provide happiness and delight, blessings and wonder…and always be filled with beauty. Happy New Year!

  6. Lovely uplifting post George - may 2011 be a wonderfully uplifting year for you.

  7. So to all things small and true, including friendships, Salud! To taking the New Year as it comes, in packages of 24, neatly gifted to us one at a time. Happy New Year :-)

  8. Lovely sentiments for all time. Truth is empowering and freeing. "Happy New Year" to you and yours
    Love Gail

  9. Thank you , George.
    This is wise and affirming and aligns with my sense of excitement for the year ahead.

  10. As always, beautiful thoughts, George. Warm and woolly wishes for 2011! xx

  11. To Ellen,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, Ellen. I agree that it's best to stick with achievable resolutions, especially ones that lead to a more compassionate life for oneself and for others. The best to you in the new year.

  12. To Ruth,

    Thanks, my friend, for your wonderful and supportive comments. I am delighted that you like my painting, and I am humbled that you find inspiration in what I publish on these pages. As I think you know, I find great inspiration from your work, your life, and your questions. I look forward to walking the days with you in the coming year.

  13. To Teresa,

    Thanks so much for the kind comments, Teresa, and welcome back from your little sabbatical. Onward and upward, indeed! May the new year bring many blessings to you and your loved ones.

  14. To Rowan,

    Thanks for the warm comments, Rowan. May the new year bless you in a thousand ways. I look forward to your postings on "Circle of the Year."

  15. To Grizz,

    Thanks for the kind and thoughtful comments, Grizz. I'm delighted that this posting resonated with you. I have worked a lifetime to rise above the trivial and to be authentic in all words and deeds. Progress comes slowly, however, I have discovered that the task of self-improvement is never completed. In the end, it might be that the best we can say, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, is that we were undefeated only because we went on trying.

    Happy New Year to you, YourLadyLove, and Moon the Dog!

  16. To Pat,

    Thanks so much for your kind comments, Pat. May the new year bring many blessings to you, the farmer, Dominic, and the rest of your family. I look forward to reading your postings in 2011.

  17. To Karen,

    Thanks so much, Karen, and Happy New Year to you as well! May you be blessed in the coming year.

  18. To Gail,

    Thanks for the warm comments, Gail. Happy New Year and best wishes in the year ahead. Peace, as always!

  19. To Deb,

    Thanks, Deb, and may the new year bring not only excitement to your life, but peace as well. Happy New Year!

  20. To Tess,

    Thanks, Tess, and may the New Year bring many blessing to you and your loved ones. I look forward to following the unfolding mysteries of Willow Manor.

  21. Your painting is a celebration, George. I'm in Denver for the New Year, and we have our first snow of the season - it's also frigid. My husband is making a special dinner for us, our home is cozy, I have a good book - I'm set to begin 2011. I like the idea of rising above pettiness. It actually goes hand in hand with authenticity and truth. Happy 2011, George, to you and Family.

  22. To Barb,

    Thanks, Barb. It sounds like you and your husband are off to a great start for the new year. May you and your loved ones continue to be blessed in 2011.

  23. OH this is so beautiful George.. this would truly make a wonderful world.. Thank you and a most wonderful new year to you and yours!

  24. To Gwen,

    Thanks so much, Gwen. May the new year shower you and your family with love, peace, and myriad other blessings.

  25. Fine resolutions, George, and I wish you every success!

    Like you, I'm not normally one for New Year's resolutions, but today I've made some practical and necessary ones concerning diet and lifestyle. But perhaps more of that later.

    In the meantime, Happy New Year!

  26. To Robert,

    Thanks, my friend, and a Happy New Year to you as well!

  27. Beautiful (and already authentic!) sentiments George. We would all do well to follow your example.

    It has been enriching and inspiring to follow your blog in 2010 - and I feel honoured by the relationship thus created. It strikes me that you are a gifted teacher, for I always know I will take away some little gem about the art of living mindfully and authentically. Thank you for what you share so generously here.

    Happy New Year dear friend.

  28. Oh - forgot to mention how fitting your painting is for ringing in the new year. It is full of joy and celebration. Beautifully vibrant. So appreciate when you share your considerable artistic talents with us George.

  29. To Bonnie,

    Thank you so much, my friend, for your warm and supportive comments. I'm delighted that you like the painting, and I look forward to our continued dialogue about art and life in the year ahead. May the year bless you in thousands of new ways!

  30. New to your blog, George, but hope to become more familiar - yes, yes and a nodding head to your sidebar! And I admire your mindful resolutions. Wishing you happiness as you strive to fulfill them in the new year.

  31. No one ever said it better than the Bard: To thine own self be true . . . .
    Chucking out the peripheral, unnecessary, useless, meaningless should be true for many of us; how much simpler life would be.

    I wouldn't even have to rave and rant about pointless parties!

    Wise words, dear George, I am so glad I met you in 2010 and I hope to be allowed to continue getting to know you in 2011.

  32. To Friko,

    Thanks for the comments, Friko. You are so right about those words from Polonius to Laertes: "To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." At a summer camp when I was only six years old, I was required to memorize that verse and recite it before every meal — three times a day! It was one of the most important lessons I ever learned.

    I am delighted to know that you have survived the holiday onslaught. How liberating it is to return to a modicum of normalcy. My best to you in the coming year. I look forward to getting to know you better.

  33. To Hildred and Charles,

    I think you stopped by once before, Hildred and Charles, and I am delighted that you have returned. I look forward to getting to know you better and wish you the very best in the coming year. Thanks for your lovely comments.

  34. spying on your paintings

  35. To Marie,

    Thanks for stopping by. I love the Georgia O'Keefe quote you have used at the top of your own blog. As both a painter and a photographer, the quote resonates with me deeply.

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  37. Hi George, yes it is a new year--I would also like to ring out the false and ring in the true- what a great way to express how I feel about January.

  38. To Donna,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, Donna, and happy new year!