The New Year is a time of reflection on the past and hope for the future for many of us. As we look back on 2011, all of us at Chatsworth Consulting Group are grateful for all of the wonderful new people that have crossed our paths this year, the new ideas that have been shared with us, and the new experiences that we have had.

Looking ahead to 2012, we wonder what new opportunities and experiences await us. I always find it exciting to think about what the New Year will bring and how my life may change as the year progresses. Who will I meet? Where will I travel? What challenges will I face? What opportunities will come my way? How will I make the most of what’s ahead for me?

I don’t have the answers to all of those questions right now. But I do know one answer to the last question. To make the most of the experiences that lie ahead I have to be willing to set aside assumptions and fears and remain open to what is new and unknown. If I live outside of my comfort zone and make an effort to meet people I may not normally get to know, or delve into a culture that I know nothing about, or set aside my fears and step up to a risky challenge, I know that I will be the richer for it.

Our hope for everyone this New Year is that we all can approach 2012 with an openness and curiosity that helps us to fully experience new ideas, new people, and new cultures. The following poem – The Cold Within by James Patrick Kinney – offers a great message about the bitter consequences of not living your life in this way. I came across it while reading the newspaper the other day and I remembered reading it long ago in school. Although the wording and premise may seem outdated, the message of the cost of intolerance, assumptions, and misguided fears is timeliness.

Wishing you a warm and wonderful new year!

The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In dark and bitter cold
Each possessed a stick of wood–
Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs,
But the first one held hers back,
For, of the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.

The next one looked cross the way
Saw one not of his church,
And could not bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes
He gave his coat a hitch,
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of wealth he had in store,
And keeping all that he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For he saw in his stick of wood
A chance to spite the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain,
Giving just to those who gave
Was how he played the game,

Their sticks held tight in death’s stilled hands
Was proof enough of sin;
They did not die from cold without –
They died from cold within.

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