Most folks abandon New Year’s resolutions by mid-February of the new year. Even sooner when the resolution is tied to losing weight. 

Yet doesn’t it make good sense to want to set our sights on some form of betterment–the change in year, or in this case, decade, a powerful kick start to support much needed transformation?

What if we replaced the word Resolution with Intention?

The intention that chose me for 2020 (a sweet card picking ceremony at a gathering of wise women) was Presence. In pre-Covid fashion, huddled around a vast array of brightly colored and textured art supplies, we each sealed the deal by creating some visual rendering of our 2020 intention. I watched the mixed reception of others’ cards–ResponsibilityCenteringGrounding–ready to emblazon mine permanently to my chest.

What intention could be more appropriate for a writer, yoga practitioner and body-oriented trauma healer than Presence?

Artwork by Marcy Little

Now, one startling Covid-infused year later, I wonder how I’ve done. I wonder how any of us have done.

Kierkegaard states that presence is infinitely more rewarding than productivity. That our species often mistakes Doing for Being. I am led to wonder if all of humanity pulled my 2020 intention card as Covid forced so many of us to pause and get present—in our homes, our immediate surroundings, and most importantly in our selves.

Still, the habit of productivity is deep. Clutching the known — humanity’s last grasp on a reality that never actually was.

Alan Watts, in his seminal work The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, warns us of this “rat-race trap” that keeps us “doing and in the long run wears [us] out.” This hallucination of separateness, or a “separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin” flies in the face of both the experimental philosophies of the east (like yoga) and western science.

Last week, on one of my daily woods walks, I had a moment of waking from this hallucination. So often, when I walk with the trees, I feel the heaviness of the destruction the human species has brought to the planet, particularly to our wise and necessary old growth tree ancestors.

What if I truly belong here? I wondered. What if our species, with its capacity to create atrocities as much as its ability to know itself, and become conscious of the deep mysteries of life, truly belongs here?

Transported into the deep web of interconnectedness, I saw myself as a molecule in the complex body of the universe. At times a potent and harmful cancer. But more often, a powerful anti-body fully supporting the emergence and continuation of life.

“We do not come into this world,” Watts says. “We come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean waves, the universe peoples. Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”

I attribute my practice of Presence to my capacity to know, even for a moment, the true nature of my being.

Painting by Marcy Little

In the hopes of getting my book Naked: My Body’s Story picked up by a notable publisher in the coming year and in the absence of the 2021 gathering of women to ritualize our intentions for this new year (thank you Covid), I am apt to reach for a new intention. Something like Tenacity, Hard Work or Luck.

But, as was my instinct last year at this time, I keep the intention of Presence emblazoned to my chest, both as a gift to myself and as an antidote to the hallucination of separation these times are helping us all to shake free.

Stay tuned for more information on Naked: My Body’s Story!