Most mornings, you’ll find me sitting at my desk under the glow of my vintage-style desk lamp, writing my morning pages. I started this practice near the beginning of this year while reading Julia Cameron’s seminal work, “The Artist’s Way.” The idea is that you wake up each day and write, in longhand, three pages of unfiltered thoughts. My entire life is a collection of journals that I’ve started and stopped. But for some reason, save a few days here and there, and into my fifth spiral notebook, I have kept up this particular discipline.
My morning page sessions have become a lifeline for my waking thoughts and serve to clean out the fog and cobwebs from my mind as I start the day. If you’ve never read “The Artist’s Way,” put it at the top of your list for 2021. The experience has changed the way I see myself and those around me, and it’s not just for creatives.
This morning, as I wrote in the waning hours of the longest year ever, my thoughts turned to what this year revealed and what I hope next year to bring.
No doubt, 2020 was a rough year. Anytime you have a Christmas ornament commemorating the year as a dumpster fire, you know it’s been a twelve-month shitstorm. Overarching all of our collective challenges was a pandemic that kept us at bay from the pace of life we take for granted. Since March, I’ve been working at home, isolated from everyone save my bubble, mostly family and a couple of friends. I used the time to do a lot of soul-searching, observing, and thinking about how I want to walk into 2021.
Micah was a Jewish prophet who spent some time denouncing the people of Jerusalem back around 700 BCE. He was especially troubled by the corruption he observed in business and politics. His words of rebuke and admonition are as apropos today as they were almost 3000 years ago.
Among my favorite of Micah’s statements is this:
“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously…”
Embedded in that passage are three key ideas: justice, mercy, and humility.
Justice, in its most basic expression, is doing what is right and fair to others. The question to ask is, “Is this act, this cause I support, this position I am taking right and fair and just to the greatest number of people around me? Does it account for the common good of humanity?”
According to one definition, mercy is “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” I am as guilty of withholding compassion as anyone, especially to those I believe have harmed me. I’m not suggesting any of us violate our boundaries or neglect self-care when it comes to toxic individuals. But, we can extend a level of compassion to others that allows us to move beyond and heal from any given situation.
Regarding humility and why we should all exhibit it, Ezra Taft Benson put it nicely:
“Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.”
When we stop worrying about whether or not our position is the right one and commit to doing what is right, our priorities shine through. We let others know that we’re less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about what will result in the greatest good.
I hope we have taken 2020 along with all of its challenges as an opportunity to reset and consider how we might collectively raise our vibration as a species. I don’t think it’s too dramatic to say our survival depends on it.
Micah’s words have come up again and again during my morning pages sessions this year. It would seem, in those moments when my waking self overlaps with the musings of my sleeping mind, my subconscious has given me a focus for 2021.
As each of us considers how we can contribute to leveling humanity up, for my part, my commitment is to express justice and mercy from a posture of humility and for the greatest good.
Justice. Mercy. Humility.
That’s what we need.