A New Year
No matter where your loyalties or beliefs reside—left, right, or center, politically or in any other realm—I think we can agree that 2017 was a year of turmoil. Things we took as certainties became uncertain. Things we thought we understood were suddenly in question. Things we took as normal morphed, creating “new normals.” In my own life, and perhaps in yours as well, there was disappointment, loss, and pain, one coming on the heels of the last so quickly and relentlessly sometimes that it became hard to hold steady or even to know the right course.
In such times, most people will reach out to others for help, for support, for reassurance, for encouragement. However natural a response that may seem to be, I am not at all sure it is the right one. It seems to me a search for cushioning, for insulation from the experience of being in and at this moment, no matter how unsettling or painful the moment is.
My own response to pain this year has been to take it all in—in deep—and not try to shoo it away or turn to others to make it more bearable. I bring it close. I need to own it. Because if you don’t own it, you won’t truly know it, and if you don’t know it, how can you hope to surmount it?
I pull inside a sort of metaphorical cave of my own creation. And in there I try to understand that the disappointments may not entirely have been visited upon me by unseen outside forces, but perhaps also by my own unrealistic expectations. I absorb the losses because, after all, they are mine and unlikely even to be perceived, much less understood by others. I own the pain.
And I wait.
I wait because I have two choices: pound my head against the wall of things impossible to change, including my own mistakes, or be patient and prepare for the breeze that may again fill the sails, the tide that will return, quietly, to lift the vessel that is me. So the challenge of the past year is simple: What have I learned? And the challenge for this New Year is just as simple: how will I use what I have learned?
I wish you all a very happy, hopeful, and heart-expanding 2018.