"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be." - William Hazlett
Many people make New Year's resolutions, and vow to change their ways 'round the beginning of each year. Not me - it seems that I become introspective about this time every year. I'm not sure why that is - maybe the long days remind me there is so much more I could be doing; maybe it's some hold-over from when I was a kid and summer always seemed like a new start.
Whatever the reason, I've been reflecting on the aspects of my life that I want to change. This is, at once, both empowering and discouraging - I think that's the essence of Hazlett's quote.
Among the abilities that set us apart from the other animals are our capacity to choose, and our ability to consciously acquire new skills. Combine these with our capacity to hope, our ability to alter our environment, and our ability to love, and you have something amazing.
Of course, not everyone chooses the same way. Some choose to be destructive, to hurt others, or to steal others' joy. I must admit, after the fact my choices sometimes feel closer to this end of the spectrum. My wish is that I always recognize these, learn from them, and make better choices the next time.
I've learned a lot in the past year, I've met some very cool people, and I've gained new perspective on what I really want for myself and my family. I feel like I'm in a pretty good position to make better choices for the coming year.
So, as summer comes, I encourage you consider who you are, who you want to become, what you've been doing for yourself and others, and what actions you can take to improve.
Laugh or weep - the choice is ours.