Rev. Nancy's Blog

Resolutions and other Re-words

January and New Year’s resolutions go together. The game is to see how long the resolutions last. Why do we break them? Why set them in the first place? Does tradition demand that we bloody our foreheads against the same brick wall, year after year?

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” There is wisdom in practicing something until we get it right. The Universe gives us ample opportunities. We just don’t need to do it the same way every time. Take the word ‘resolution’ itself.

Webster’s dictionary defines ‘resolution’ as “the act or process of breaking something up into its constituent parts.” So let’s do that. Re-Solution. ‘Solution’ is “the act, method or process of solving a problem.” An effective resolution, then, cannot be the one we tried last year (and the year before, and the year before) that didn’t work – at least not for long. Re-Solve the problem. Find a new solution and try that.

This process gives many re-words new light and meaning. Some examples:

Retire – The Webster definition is “To go away, retreat, or withdraw to a private or secluded place; to retreat from battle; to give up one’s work, especially because of advanced age.” The concept is withdrawal, which makes more sense than ‘getting tired again.’ I often wonder why people say “congratulations” when someone retires from work. From the ‘withdrawal’ perspective, it’s time for that person to shift their energies from outward production to inward processing. Another perspective, voiced by a retired ministerial friend, is “putting new wheels on the buggy.” Re-Tired: new tires on the buggy to begin a new leg of the journey.

Remove – “To move something from where it is; to take off (such as a garment); to do away with.” The concept is to separate something from its current location. There is finality to it. Re-Move is to move again. Let’s try this out, and if it doesn’t work we can try something else. Move again. This is a great word to help us remember that living life is a process.

Remember – “To bring or have something or someone come to mind again.” The concept is to hold something in memory, be it an event, person, sensory experience, or feeling. ‘Member,’ though is “a part or organ of a body; a distinct part or element of a whole; a person belonging to some group.” All of us lose parts of ourselves along the way. Re-Member. View it from inside yourself. Bring back into yourself all those pieces and parts of your Self that you have lost, given away or left elsewhere.

Reserve – “To keep back, store up, or set apart for later use or special purpose.” The concept is to withhold some part. ‘Serve,’ on the other hand, is “to aid, assist, help; to meet the needs or satisfy the requirements of another.” The concept is giving. Here there is a call for balance. To Re-Serve, or serve again (and again), we risk giving so much of ourselves that the proverbial well runs dry. Some Reserve, keeping something back, is part of a discernment process; keeping good personal boundaries; taking care of one’s Self. I can give, or serve, with my whole heart, and still reserve the core of my truth and my Self.

Many re-words lend themselves to this process. A different meaning can emerge when the root is emphasized. What re-words would you like to play with? Here are some suggestions: recount, retread, recall, renew, resign, restore, repress, revolve, recurrent, return, release, repair …..

For this year’s resolutions, try re-solutions. Look at the issue a different way. A new solution may emerge.

What re-words would you like to play with?