These days, I am far more interested in self-acceptance than in further improvements. Seems to me that a good deal of pop psychology is thinly veiled self-rejection. Of course, I want to continue to discover more about life and myself. I just don’t want to miss the quiet knowing that has always been present.
I’ve often wondered if we close the door on the current year too quickly, racing toward the next room and the promise of where we’re going, rather than savoring where we’ve been.
This year I’m feeling it even more, perhaps because we’re rushing not just to a new year, but a whole new decade.
And so, before the final calendar page has even turned, we ramp ourselves up. And bombarded by the abundance of advice about all that we can and should be, we announce the personal enhancements and improvements we’ll undertake:
Be more. Be better. Be happier. Be smarter. Be healthier. Be fitter. Be kinder. Be stronger. Be wiser. Be organized. Be focused. Be disciplined. Be loving.
All potentially good things. And yet, with every phrase we utter, another sits underneath, murky and unformed: “I am not enough.”
So what if we found another way to negotiate this transition from one year to the next?
What if, instead of riding through the streets, Paul Revere-style, shouting, “My life is coming, my life is coming,” we stopped for a moment. Got off the horse. And quietly acknowledged, no matter how sublime or difficult the past 365 days were, no matter what we did or didn’t accomplish, that we were enough. That life was enough. And will be so again next year.
It’s been said that a full, rich life isn’t actually made up of achievements and attainments, goals set and goals met, but rather moments, experiences, and feelings.
Certainly, when I reflect lovingly on my past year (full of both ups and downs, like most lives), my memory doesn’t take me to my official successes or failures. No, it pulls me into a replay of sometimes tender, often joyous, always meaningful scenes and stories, large and small…
- Walking on Bodega Head on a late spring day: blue ocean merging with blue sky.
- Monthly lunches with my brother Steve.
- Being with Leo on the journey from near-death back to full life.
- Words, ideas, insights. A life of their own. Doing what they want.
- 4th of July. Occidental, California. And there’s Dad, still going strong at 88.
- A down comforter when the temperature drops.
- Cooking, experimenting, making a mess. Dave right by my side.
- Gratitude each work day for the gift my clients give me: letting me into their lives.
- Lazy Sunday afternoons in bed. Talking and making love.
- Jonathan Young telling the story of Hansel and Gretel.
- A wake-up call: My mother-in-law’s death.
- Glorious performances. The best: Brief Encounter and August, Osage County
- My own tears and sadness. Feeling misunderstood.
- Sea Ranch. That week in September.
- Summer dinners. A long table under the trees. Coming together. Evan, John, Janice. Deb and Barry.
- Reading, outside, on the day bed. A favorite: The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer.
- Sun, wind, rain, moon, cold, hot.
- Practicing mirroring with Dave. Listening. Truly listening.
- My neighbor, taking on his own roof replacement. A month of early morning hammering. A month of marveling at his tenacity.
- Discovering that I still missed my mother, even 35 years after she was gone.
- Singing, laughing, dancing, music.
- Literally watching the garden grow. Who knew a morning glory could sprawl so far, so fast?
OK, I’ve got to stop! I’ve opened the flood gates; it’s pouring out of me and I could keep going. And when I give my heart and soul to this memory making, there’s a boatload of goodies, expected and unexpected.
Personally, it’s a lot more satisfying than crafting a list of goals for next year. And it reminds me of a quote from Eric Maisel:
My memory is the library of my experience. I will read there often.
Which is not to say I don’t respect striving and ambition and forward movement. I’ve done my share, and expect I will continue to do so. And I’ll also continue to support it in others, because, hey, I’m a counselor and coach. After all, it’s part of my job description.
But I’m also in a business and on a path that leads me to recognize that too often the striving and ambition masks a deeper yearning: to have a fuller relationship with life itself, to honor “the quiet knowing that has always been present,” that Jonathan Young speaks of so eloquently in the quote above.
So as both the year and the decade wind down, let’s all celebrate that quiet knowing within ourselves. I invite you to share one of your own scenes or stories from the past year. A memory. A moment. A feeling. An experience. Whatever you like. Because each of us will be enriched by it.
On a final note, I wish all of you – readers, commenters, clients, friends – the most joyous of holidays. This is my last post of the year. As some of you know, I’m a firm believer in taking time off. I’ll be around some of the time, responding to comments and such. I’ll also be unplugged for a time, too. But don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts here. Be assured that I will read them all.
HMMM, I WONDER WHERE THE ADVENTURE WILL TAKE US NEXT YEAR?
WHY NOT START NOW?