I’ve been struggling for a long time to form some kind of coherent reflection on everything that 2016 has been. The trouble is that this January will represent for me not only the end of one year, but the end of almost a decade long fight, the end of nearly five years in a very grueling environment, and many new beginnings in new locations. It is so much all at once that it is hard to hone in on just any one feeling – they are all bursting to be felt, but instead end up mixing all together into one giant vortex of emotion so strong that I would rather just turn off and not feel. Am I proud? Am I sad? Am I happy? Am I scared? Hopeful? Excited? Scared? Stressed? Anxious? Yes and no and everything in between.
he world kind of feels a bit upside down at the moment, in more ways than one. Yet I meditate on the Rumi quote that tells us, “Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one that is to come?”
I gravitate to the line “Let life live through you.” How do we do that? This past year has made me really cognizant of time. The passing of it, the speed of it, the unpredictability of it. We never will know when ours is up. Also, I am very tired of the “I don’t have enough time” line. There is no such thing as “enough” time. There is just time. And we all have the exact same amount. It’s all about how you choose to allocate it. The way you choose to divvy up your time speaks volumes about your character – it illuminates the truth way better than any other actions and certainly better than words. By giving one thing more time than another, or more focus or energy, you are consciously making the choice to give that one thing precedence. It may not be a case of wrong or right, but it is a strong statement nonetheless. In 2016 I urge myself and others to stop using time as an excuse and to start better articulating our priorities – bring it all up to the surface, really ask yourself why when you begin to say “I don’t have enough time.” What is it that you are giving the most importance? Is it really the most important to you? The way we focus our time is the way we focus our life.
It’s hard not to feel really disheartened by the world, where it seems that most people have actively chosen that what is most important to them is their own comfort regardless of the well-being of others, regardless of the hate, bigotry, and ignorance that comes with that stagnant comfort. Sometimes I feel like I’m grasping desperately for something to give me strength, for some kind of bandage for my gaping wounds. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is that the saving has to come from within. No one gives me bandages; I must create them on my own. In a recent She Reads Truth post, writer Raechel Myers gave some advice that resonated with me:
“Look for the helpers.”
Myers said, “It was Mr. Rogers who shared this insight with us — advice his own mother gave him when he would see scary things happening as a child. ‘You will always find people who are helping.'”
In the midst of all this scariness, we must look to the ones who are reaching towards those who are hurting. There are always those choosing to spend their time focused on lifting others up. In my own time of immense change, I want to allocate my precious time towards those who aim to help, to lift up, to bring energy and lightness and active consideration. I also aim to be a helper myself – I want to learn from my time in the valley so that I can better recognize the signs of someone else headed there themselves.
Change brings with it instability, and I think that’s part of the reason why it is so threatening. The future is foggy, the ground isn’t sturdy, yet we are being asked to keep blindly walking forward. I must admit, there have been times recently when I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to keep trying to walk. And I finally realized it was okay to give myself that. I let myself hurt. Somedays you don’t have to fight – it is alright to pause, take off your armor for a bit, and curl up to hold yourself together. Meditate on your pain; grieve the loss of the familiar. And once you’ve filled your cup back up, cling to your strength and the inner stability that can never be affected by change.
One thing that has really opened up my eyes this year is a widening sense of my own agency. I have an innate power within me to be content, to facilitate my own emotional states within myself. And by being in control of how I handle a situation, I in turn will allow others the space to do this for themselves. Your kindness gives others the energy to be kind as well. As Sheena Mannina of Raw Talk with Sheena says, if we expect when we meet someone else that we are going to see that same essence of self, of love, of depth, then we are going to manifest those things in the other person. We must approach a situation or another person with love and depth, no matter how different it/they may seem, in order to fully immerse ourselves in what that situation or person is going to teach us. What you believe is what you are going to perpetuate.
All I can do is try to be the warmth that has become so absent in this world. We have enough judgment, enough shame, enough hatred – too much. It’s the easiest thing I can do to just be kind, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to not be harsh with my words and to lift up anyone I can with light and strength and honesty. In no way do I think I will be able to affect everyone on this planet, but if I have been given a kind heart, an intelligent mind, and a caring soul, it is the least I can do to use them and spread them around, especially during this time of so much hurt.
At the same time, one of my goals for the new year will be making sure that I reflect some of this kindness back onto myself. I need to work on nourishing my sturdy roots with encouraging words and messages of courage and durability. Change is a lot – it is a time when we see the true colors of those around us, when those in our circle who truly care to hang on during this whirlwind rise to the top, and those who allocate their energy elsewhere slip off. Change can hurt, but we cannot be afraid of hurting. Change is a necessary part of life, and the way it makes us feel all comes from the mindset we approach it with.
All of this I try to keep in mind in the midst of a universe that seems to be becoming more unstable with every turn. We’ll see how it goes…I am only a work in progress. But the key is that I am moving; I am progressing; I am trying; I am pushing against the hurt and choosing to grasp onto the healing. I hope you will join me.