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Gary Horton: Happy New Year of action

Posted: January 1, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 1, 2014 2:00 a.m.

I want to wish you a very happy New Year. We all deserve it. Well, most do, I suspect.

I also want to wish you a very productive New Year. We all need it! Of this there’s little doubt.

Most of all, I want to wish you a committed, disciplined New Year of growth. We owe it to our families, our society, and ourselves. And of this there is zero doubt.

Each year at this time, most of us entertain new hopes and dreams, new resolutions and plans, and we might even venture some written goals.

But for most of us, as New Year’s Day turns to New Year’s weeks, and autumn leaves begin to fall, we find we’re still 20 or 30 pounds overweight, or we’re still smoking, or we didn’t get that new job (or didn’t even apply), nor did we take those college classes required to get qualified for the job.

Positive change, we know deep down, requires sustained, determined effort in the face of tough challenges.

We are creatures of familiar habit, and change comes very hard. The older we are the harder are our shells, and the tougher nuts we are to crack.

Worse, many have developed “life narratives” in our heads — subtle stories we believe about ourselves that may limit our abilities — even our ultimate life outcomes.

It’s tough to grow and move forward when deep inside, we might believe that we can’t.

Still, life stands before all of us and short is the list of folks needing no improved course.

And while dealing honestly with one’s self as to where we can and should improve is tough enough, musteringthe guts to follow through, day in and day out, requires real fortitude.

But all those who have stuck out a grueling college degree, or finally mastered their weight, or kicked smoking or drinking, or have rebuilt a struggling marriage or family relationship — all these will tell you that the struggle and the guts do bring the results and the glory.

Carrie and I just returned from a visit to our daughter up in Seattle. Seattle is a hilly town, a little bit like San Francisco.

We were hiking up the steep hill eastward from Pike’s Market when we encountered a man in a wheelchair crossing the street before us. His crosswalk was also at a substantial incline, and it was apparent that crossing it would be a struggle.

He wheeled determinedly; then half-way across the man suddenly spun his wheelchair 180 degrees and began pushing with his legs the rest of the way through, as though it was absolutely nothing.

He surprised us again by making a hard right at the intersection toward an even steeper incline and again wheeled into the intersection.

As before, half-way through he spun his wheelchair and pushed strongly with his legs.

Across the street from us, he headed up the long inclined street parallel from us and again propelled himself backward.

From across the street, Carrie noticed that the man’s right shoe had a sole built up 3 inches higher than his left.

We were slack-jawed amazed that this man, with multiple disabilities, moved so adroitly and purposefully, asking no help from anyone.

We left humbled at the sight, and our first thought was, “How could we ever feel sorry for ourselves or feel we aren’t up to this or that life challenge after seeing this man take disabilities and hills and cold weather in stride?

I’ve been around long enough to know that life can be very hard and can also be quite unfair. Some challenges we may not be able to overcome, and we need to either work around or patiently accept them.

But most of us live inside limiting walls of our own making, and with fresh views, new thinking, and dedicated discipline, we can usually tear down these self-limiting walls to achieve higher aspirations and dreams for ourselves, our families, and for our communities.

New Year’s Day is a great time to get started with determined change.

Seeing what I saw in Seattle, I can authoritatively say there are few valid reasons for us to sulk around, or fear, or delay positive action beyond this very New Year’s Day.

Things are looking up for 2014. It’s a great new year for you and me to get on the change train!

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.



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