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By: Doug Bittinger - Jan. 1, 2009

Before folks begin writing me asking why in the world a "Mountain Man" is using seafaring terminology in this rumination, let me explain that occasionally I become nostalgic for the days when I was an avid sailor, owned a sailboat or would crew aboard my friend Bill's boat.  Those days are long past, but occasionally those ingrained thought patterns float to the surface of my consciousness.  This, apparently, was one of those times, for today when I sat down, placed my fingers over the keyboard, and let my mind off its leash this is what came out.

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I try not to engage in too much scrutinizing of past events and actions.  People who are wiser than I say that such scrutinizing will only lead into an ever tightening spiral of self absorption.  We need to keep our gaze fixed on the here and now; today, with an occasional glance up to the future so we know we are still on course.  When exceptional events occur we should make note of contributing factors in the log book, but we should not obsess over them.

While wallowing in the past can be detrimental to mental health, this is one day; New Years Day, when I make it a tradition to go back over my notes and review the things I've done, the results of those actions, and how I may be able to build upon - or avoid repeating - said results in the future.  Knowing how I got to where I am helps me know how to get where I want to be… assuming I know where I want to be.

Goal setting is an important step in life.  All of the personal improvement coaches say so, even the Godly ones.  Too many believe that being Christian means drifting through life like a leaf on the wind, expecting God to carry us to where He would have us be.  While God does indeed offer guidance, because He also allows us total free will most of the events of our life are determined by our own decisions - or lack of decision.  If we choose not to make decisions for ourselves others will do it for us: and it may not be God who steers our course.

But, being Christian means that goal setting is not simply a matter of deciding what *I* want to have happen in my life, then chart out a route to make that happen.  I must also consider His will for my life, and to even know what that is I must have a proper relationship with Him so that the faint stirring of the soul that is His voice speaking to me can get through all the noise and clamor of modern life.

As Yoda once said, "Difficult to see the future is. Always in motion it is." Truer words were never spoken for as the events of today occur, our charted course into the future may need to be reevaluated and that course corrected.  Sometimes, as new truths are revealed to us, some goals will be removed or radically changed in response.

I get a chuckle out of some of our scientists.  They point to the 'known truths' of modern science and state that "this" is irrefutable fact, and all other related facts are based upon it.  Not so long ago, celestially speaking, it was known fact that the Earth was a flat disk resting on the backs of three great beasts and the entire universe revolved around it.  Anyone who believed otherwise was a heretic and could be put to death for challenging the Established Truth.  Well, eventually brave men disproved this irrefutable fact, and all known science changed as a result. I have a book entitled The Day the Universe Changed by science historian James Burke, which explores many of the pivotal revelations that changed the course of modern science.  This is an entertaining as well as enlightening discourse of the silly thoughts we as humankind once clung to as truth.  I suspect we as a species are in for a few more shake-ups before it's all done.  I do not, however, scoff at science as some do.  God knows that we are an inquisitive species and we need mysteries to solve.  So He has left us a trail of crumbs to follow, to learn about our surroundings, and to become more enlightened.  But only after the end comes will we understand all that God understands.

However, you and I do not chart the course for our understanding of celestial mechanics or quantum physics… well, at least *I* don't, maybe you do. But just as the changes that Mr.  Burke explores changed life as we knew it, changes to our personal trek through the universe can require changes to our projected destination, and our understanding of what is fact.  So our goals need a certain amount of flexibility, and we need to be able to roll with the changing conditions.

Reviewing the past year helps me to see what has worked out, what has not, and where I may need to adjust the course I'm steering.  I encourage you to try it too.

Most professional economical and societal prognosticators are telling us that the year ahead will be difficult for most of us.  These financial conditions toss an extra atoll into the voyage I had hoped to be taking this year, but with God's wisdom and guidance I hope to find a way to steer around it and avoid the reefs of fiscal ruin.

Have a good year, and remember that the secret to contentment is not having everything you want, but to want everything you have.

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