It’s a good day to be alive in Southern Vermont, as the sun has set on 2015 and triumphantly risen again on a brand new year full of so much mystery and possibility. Some may say it is silly to have New Year’s resolutions, but I say it’s never a bad time to recalibrate your compass, to realign your intentions, and to reset your life.
On this new day, I’m sharing these two images which I pass by everyday on my walk to work Downtown. They share space on the same street, Green Street at the corner of the Masonic Center, on West and East-facing walls respectively, nearly peering into each others souls day and night.
For the hundreds of times that I’ve walked by it, “get inch take mile” has always resonated with me as a message of free will and personal autonomy. Of course one may initially think of this common phrase as implying greed and exploitation. Think of a child who asked their parents to stay up just a few minutes longer, to eventually, when they’re still awake an hour later, leaving their parents feeling exhausted and taken advantage of.
But as I look at it again and again, attempting a close reading of this phrase, “get inch take mile” begins to take on a new symbolism for me. I realize that everything is shaped by what meaning we bring to it, just as we may look back on 2015 and our tinted lenses of hindsight remind us more of the disasters and disappointments, rather than the much more numerous humble daily successes, or perhaps sugar-coat with rosy lenses the harm or damage that we truly did cause.
Either way, we are only human, and as such, we are filled with so much potential for symbolic reasoning. I choose to see “get inch take mile” as an extremely positive and uplifting sentiment. It is simultaneously a warning for the devastation that mankind is capable of, and also a message that we all have the choice to go above and beyond expectations in all of our endeavors.
The inch is nothing more than the open door to opportunity, and it is my decision what I will do when I walk through it. The inch is the proverbial “first step” on a path toward my destiny, and arguably one of the smallest measures of infinity.
The only question that is of any consequence is whether I intend for my destiny to be one filled with light or darkness, or a healthy balance of both. (Cue up the Yoda sentiments.) Will I invest my precious inch wisely to empower healthy growth, or will I succumb to the seductive qualities of nihilistic self-doubt and destruction that I have in the past?
The truth is that we are given so many inches, so many chances, to make each and every next step really count. 2016 will be full of innumerable inches to turn our focus toward mending and healing, rather than spiraling farther into fear and darkness.
I intend to turn my millions of little inches into miles upon miles of beautiful and rejuvenating landscapes, with highs on the mountaintops and lows in the sea, but always grounded in the good, and the memories of what it felt like to be bad. Yoda would be proud, as having started down a dark path in the past, it will forever dominate my destiny, acting as death and his shadow peering over my shoulder, whispering secrets that I will use to inform my quest for balance and acceptance.
Let’s take those steps together, with new leaves and fresh starts; choosing to see every fork in the path as an immense opportunity to contort darkness into light, to skulk in the shadows and to be blessed by the sun, knowing the allure of them both, and proceeding with wisdom and knowledge into oblivion.
Happy New Year, my new friends.