Alexandre Dumas wrote a book hundreds of years ago. It’s my favorite romance novel of all time. Twelve hundred pages, or so, of outrage, reward and pure unadulterated vengeance. And a study of humanity that reaches right down to the foundations of sociology, anthropology and sociobiology well before those social sciences were even thought of, much less instituted. The ending of the book is extremely important, but often overlooked in its serious conclusion.

Edmond Dantes, the young sailor thrown into prison, only to survive and emerge as the Count of Monte Cristo, vanquishes one and all but cannot repair or recover the relationship he once had with Mercedes, the love of his life. At the end of the book, the Count is last seen sailing away from the coast of France, while his former love is up on a high cliff along the shore watching him go. Alongside the Count is Haydee, his concubine, who loves the Count deeply, but whom the Count does not love. He stares at the cliff and then down at Haydee, and then back again. The ship continues to sail. The Count has all the money in the world, but no place to go. In fact, he has no place he wants to go.

The myth of great fortune plays out in this novel. It is relationship and meaning in this life that has true value and content. The rest is just stuff. Junk, if you will. In this day and age vengeance is lovingly and excitedly so over-rated, it is beyond belief. Practicing vengeance as intently and successfully, as the Count certainly did, is merely an example of a man seemingly moving forward through life while actually paying attention only to the road behind. When the Count accomplishes his mission of vengeance he finally turns to stare ahead into the future, and there’s nothing to stare at. What are you doing with your life as we head into 2018? Are you going through life looking backwards? Are you willing to let go and let God take care of those who’ve maligned you? Are you ready to stare straight ahead, smile at your good fortune in being here at all, and then take that first step into the New Year?

What parts of you have been repaired by God, and what parts of you have been damned as you have aged? Is it the disassembly of our parts as they age, or is it the constant never-ending struggle to keep all the parts functional and working, that encourages us to hunker down and begin to withdraw from the adventure of life itself? The physical wellbeing of everyone is covered a bit with the most popular of all New Year’s resolutions. That resolution is to lose weight. Whether losing weight simply to look better, or to help stave off other health issues, it is good to think about preventive care. Come away with me…

The romance and adventure writing of years gone by, and even today (although the field is no longer as popular as it was), never gave much notice to physical or mental care. However, the modern era is slowly but surely teaching a great new lesson to generations that previously were never prepared for the new maxim: you can live too long. Living long and enjoying it for yourself and the others around you, particularly the family that becomes ever more in charge of your well-being and care, has a lot to do with not ending up in the situation the Count of Monte Cristo found himself at the end of that novel. When you stop during the day, go to bed at night or quietly drink coffee in the morning, think about continuing to arrive, day by day and night by night, in a place of continued wonder and warm bliss. The vagaries of finance, relationships and all manner of modern bothersome detail will detract you from consistently holding to a plan, but the wonderful thing about such planning is that you can always modify it and get back to going where you want to go. Take that first step into the New Year, and do it with purposeful deliberation and a smile. Come away with me…

The negatives of our time are not hidden under layers of contentment or overcome by the revelations of advancement and goodness. The ‘news’ no longer works that way, if it ever did. When the first news broadcasts of news were made to huge audiences in grand church facilities, that news was all about fear, retribution and death. Not much has changed. The evening news, or even the morning newspaper, usually begins with violent reports of those humans killed by other humans out of deliberation or accident. Today, as back in those earlier times of civilization’s development, positive attitudes must be self-generated and from the very core. As you move into the New Year think about those things that are simply great about living in today’s world, particularly if you are reading this in the United States. Warmth in winter is nearly universal, as is air-conditioning in the summer months. Food distribution reaches nearly every human in the country on some kind of convenient basis. There’s electricity and gas everywhere. There’s transportation everywhere to almost anywhere. People generally live well into their eighties and remain amazingly vital through most of those years.   You got lucky to be born on this earth. You got even luckier if you were born in the USA. Think about these things and smile at your good fortune.

Now, come away with me and work at creating more good news.

~ James Strauss


Sign up for Updates