Resolving to be appreciative

Every New Year’s Eve the world sings the song attributed Bobbie Burns: “Auld Lang Syne.” Many of us hardly know what the Scottish words mean

The song’s title may be translated into English literally as “old long since,” or more idiomatically, “long, long ago”, “days gone by,” or “old times.” Consequently “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated “for the sake of old times.” I guess, a decent English translation would be, “For old times sake.”

The song looks back to old times, but most of us at the beginning of a New Year tend to look forward with well-meant resolutions. And they usually have to do with our bodies rather than our spirits. To lose weight, for example, is the by far the top New Year’s resolution. Oh I know, we all are psychosomatic wholes and more exercise, better eating, quitting smoking, stop drinking alcohol, joining the gym, less television, etc. will benefit both body and soul. But this year my 83rd – I intend to make some more simply spiritual resolutions.

I resolve to give thanks every day. I resolve to give thanks for life. After all these years, I’m still alive; many of my contemporaries aren’t. I give thanks for a family who loves and helps me. For my brother and sisters, for my children. I give thanks for friends. I know that there are many without them. I give thanks that I can still think and reason – and write a column like this. My wife with Alzheimer’s can’t.

More basically, though, I give thanks that I can get out of bed in the morning. Many are bedridden and aren’t able. I give thanks I can make breakfast and feed myself. Not everyone can. I give thanks I can walk (even if with a cane). There are many in wheelchairs who can’t walk at all. I give thanks for my shower and hot water. Hundred of thousands around the world have hardly any water at all.

I could go on. Perhaps I should. But my resolution is more embracing. It’s an attitude I’m after. I want to strive – even struggle – to have a thankful heart, a grateful spirit. I want to be grateful for human love, for children and grandchildren, for health and peace, for friends – and for faith itself. For all that I can’t be grateful enough.

If this column sounds more like one for Thanksgiving than for New Years, so be it. My resolution is to be thankful everyday for life and all that sustains it.

Retired from the administration at State University of New York at Fredonia, Daniel O’Rourke lives in Cassadaga. His columns once appeared regularly in the OBSERVER. A grandfather, Dan is a married Catholic priest. His book, “The Living Spirit” is a collection of his previous columns. To read about that book or send comments on this column visit his website