Why your resolution should be being a Vegetarian in the year 2016
Happy New Year to you all. I thank God for giving us all another opportunity to do life right.
For many, this is a time for reflections and strategy making, a time when you review the year that passed and evaluate the quality of life you had vis-a-vis what you could have had, and why the difference. This is a time where you draw up a to-do-list and a not-to-do-list which is probably longer than the to-do-list. Whatever the case, whether you choose to accept it or not, the dates have changed and instead of 2015 you will now be writing 2016.
Imagine how crazy you would look if in August this year (2016) you wrote a cheque and dated it August 2015. Whether a personal or a corporate cheque, one thing is certain; that it would bounce, unless the teller dealing with the cheque is as absent minded as you are.
As much as this may sound funny, it is very true that some of us are still living in the past. Some people have not started the New Year yet. In fact, they probably haven’t crossed over to the new century yet. They are still living in the year 2000. In other words, all that is changing is the year and number of years they have been living, but nothing new has been added to or substracted from their lives. The quality (or lack of quality) of their lives is still the same, probably worsened over the years. They are stuck in this monotonous and mediocre life because they became content with where they are.
I’d like to share with you a story that has been making rounds on the internet hoping it will clearly illustrate what I am trying to say to us all. Here goes….
Once upon a time in a faraway land, there lived a Chinese wise man and his disciple. One day in their travels, they saw a hut in the distance. As they approached they realized that it was occupied in spite of its extremely poor appearance.
In that desolate place where there were no crops and no trees, a man lived with his wife, three young children and a thin, tired cow. Since they were hungry and thirsty, the wise man and his disciple stopped for a few hours and were well received.
At one point, the wise man asked: “This is a very poor place, far away from anything. How do you survive?”
“You see that cow? That’s what keeps us going,” said the head of the family. “She gives us milk, some of it we drink and some were make into cheese. When there is extra, we go into the city and exchange the milk and cheese for other types of food. That’s how we survive.”
The wise man thanked them for their hospitality and left. When he reached the first bend in the road, he said to his disciple:
“Go back, get the cow, take her to the cliff in front of us, and push her off.”
The disciple could not believe what he was hearing.
“I cannot do that, master! How can you be so ungrateful? The cow is all they have. If I throw it on the cliff, they’ll have no way to survive. Without the cow, they’ll all die!”
The wise man, an elderly Chinese man, took a deep breath and repeated the order: “Go ahead. Push the cow off the cliff.”
Though outraged at what he was being asked to do, the student was resigned to obey his master. He returned to the hut and quietly led the animal to the edge of the cliff and pushed. The cow fell down the cliff and died.
As the years passed by, remorse for what he had done never left the disciple. One spring day, the guilt became too much to bear and he left the wise man and returned to that little shack. He wanted to find out what had happened to that family, to help them out, apologize, or somehow make amends.
On nearing, upon rounding a turn in the road, he could not believe what his eyes were seeing. In place of the poor shack there was a beautiful house with trees all around, a swimming pool, several cars in the garage, a satellite dish, and on and on. Three good-looking teenagers and their parents were celebrating their first million dollars.
The heart of the disciple froze. What could have happened to the family? Without a doubt, they must have been starving to death and were forced to sell their land and leave. At that moment, the student thought they must all be begging on the street corners of some city. He approached the house and asked a man that was passing by about the whereabouts of the family that had lived there several years before.
“You’re looking at it,” said the man, pointing to the people gathered around the barbecue.
Unable to believe what he was hearing, the disciple walked through the gate and took a few steps closer to the pool where he recognized the man from several years before, only now he was strong and confident, the woman was happy, and the children were now nice-looking teenagers.
He was dumbfounded, and went over to the man and asked: “What happened? I was here with my teacher a few years ago and this was a miserable place. There was nothing. What did you do to improve your lives in such a short time?”
The man looked at the disciple, and replied with a smile: “We had a cow that kept us alive. She was all we had. But one day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we didn’t even know we had.
And so, because we were forced to come up with new ways of doing things, we are now much better off than before.”
Moral of the story: Sometimes our dependency on something small and limited is the biggest obstacle to our growth. Perhaps the best thing that could happen to you is to push your “cow” down the cliff. Once you free yourself of the thought “it’s little but it’s certain,” or of that idea “I am not doing great but there are people who are much worse than me” — then your life will really change.
Assuming this family were leaving in the year 2000, if the cow hadn’t died when it was forced to, then they would have gone through one New Year to another and another with the same mindset they always had; the mindset that the cow was the only way they would have made a livelihood. This is a classic example of how many of us receive a New Year. We just change the calendar but otherwise nothing else changes in us. We still continue doing the same things we were doing before and expect to see change in our lives. How now? Einstein called that insanity and I agree with him.
As you go about making your New Year resolutions (hoping you haven’t broken some already), here is a question I’d like to ask you hoping you will answer it genuinely; Is there a cow in your life that is hindering you from your progress? The cow could be in form of a relationship that is breaking you instead of building you; a job that is draining you instead of moulding you; a business that is sapping you instead of you tapping into it. Whatever your cow is, this is the time to identify and get rid of it.
A New Year will never bring change to anyone unless an individual takes up the challenge to face up the facts about his/her life with boldness. Are you happy with where your life is right now and where it is taking you? Have all your activities become robotic to a point of being termed as being routine and monotonous since they seem not to be bringing any meaningful change to your life? Are you still surrounding yourself with people who seem to be lost themselves, people who sap your energy and resources, giving you nothing in return?
Well, answering the above questions genuinely and making the deliberate and possibly painful decision to separate yourself from anything that has kept you living in the past instead of turning a new leaf is the beginning of you enjoying the year 2016. Let this be the turning point in your life. Make a decision to learn something new; go back to college and learn a new course/skill, change your lifestyle and do everything that propels you to healthy living, take time to enjoy your weekends in more meaningful ways, change your friends where necessary (this is tough but it is necessary if you are to move forward), get a new source of revenue besides your job, take care of your spiritual being, etc. This is just day 3 of 2016. You have 363 more days to make a complete turnaround and make this year count.
It is my sincere hope that this first article of this year will help us all live a fruitful and meaningful 2016. I have my list of changes I am going to implement in 2016 but in order to succeed, I have to start by getting rid of all the cows in my life. Yep for 2016 I am planning on being a vegetarian (hope you get this joke).
Now that you know what to do, I am certain that you will make a positive change in your life and as this happens, I wish you all a very energetic, fulfilling and fruitful New Year filled with wisdom to help you make the right decisions.
Get rid of your “Cows” and 2016 is surely going to be the year you succeed in leaps.
Again I wish you a very Happy New Year.
PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 3rd January, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".