Did you fulfill your dreams and intentions this year gone by? Was creating art integral to those dreams? I sincerely hope that your life was fulfilling in a significant way, and wish you more of that for 2016.

In one sense the transition from one year to the next on January 1st is an artifical convention in practical terms. You can choose — resolve — to make changes — at any point and on any day of one’s life to lose weight, gain weight, get sober, get married, make money, make art, make more money making more art…

In my thinking, though, there’s something to be said for what Dr. Katherine Milkman calls the “fresh-start effect”.

It’s a phenomenon sociologists have observed that people seem to get a boost in energy and determination when they commit to something from a “clean slate” start.

A key component concept here is “commitment”. W. H. Murray, David Richo and others have expressed that once one commits wholeheartedly to some action, the universe opens up and instances of grace appear in the form of opportunities that support that commitment. From my personal experience I believe this to be true.

I’ve also heard it said that once one makes a resolution, the universe will throw up obstacles to “test” that resolve; but I no longer believe that to be true. The obstacles that rear their heads come not from the “universe”, or God or “the Devil” or some external higher power. I believe they come from within, from the same childhood-rooted hurts that have been there a long time unresolved. I believe “New Year’s resolutions” to overcome addictive behaviors so often fall by the wayside for this reason more than any external circumstance.

New Year’s Days, birthdays, weddings or other sundry fresh starts can serve as symbolic but useful spiritual declarations that you’ve chosen — committed — to initiate rebirths, break out new tracks from old ruts or recognize new segments in the ongoing Gannt chart of your life.

Rituals are important and powerful.

Correlating the benchmarks of one’s life with the cyclical changes of nature — whether they be endings or new beginnings, the closing of doors or the opening of new ones is the stuff from which poetic metaphor is made, whether literary or visual.

2015 was an intense year for me, in many of the different senses of intense, good and bad, wonderful and horrid. But I resolved at the beginning of last year to live 2015 with intensity; and I’m committed to living 2016 even more so, come what may.

To what do I commit this year?

I commit to create much more art, of course — more intense art.

Yes, some of my art is “dark”. But the way out of darkness begins with an authentic acknowledgement of the real impact of dark events, not denial. Hopefully one ultimately struggles for a way through and out of the darkness, not stay enmired there. To that end I commit to make at least three compositions of hope, the yearning for transcendence, healing, joy and light for every one of darkness. I’ll have more to say about this in future blog posts and newsletters.

I resolve — commit — to make seamless the sharing of a loving, fulfilling life and the creation of art.

I commit to sharing that fulfillment with the circle of humans and sentient nature around me. Continuing on the progress of 2015, I resolve to create more social art, find more venues for exposing the world to the concepts I have to express through my artwork.

I commit to enlarging that circle and expanding my reach.

And because I’m human, I won’t necessarily get it all “right”. Remember that seeming “truism” that artists/creatives/whatever/fill-in-the-blanks are their own worst critics? I resolve to practice kindness wherever and with whomever I can — most emphatically including with myself.

Those are my resolutions and commitments in the broad strokes of the brush or chalk. There are others, more “practical” ones, of course. But the rest is just filling in the fine details. What are yours? I invite you to write me and let us know.