In my previous blog post, I described an experience I had many years ago with a concussion that changed the direction of my life. Today, in the wake of New Years’ celebrations around the globe, I would like to discuss the power of this kind of review of our life stories, and the gifts available to us when we are able to witness these stories without identifying with them.
The turn of the year seems like a potent time to examine our lives, or at least the events of the passing year. Based on our year review, we set goals, intentions or resolutions for the year being born. This process, like any transition, can echo our original experience of being born into this life. We often do it unconsciously, with an abundance of numbing substances like alcohol or too much food. This can be a reflection or re-enactment of a birth process involving anesthesia or other drugs. We often feel at the mercy of time, as it moves too quickly or too slowly, emphasized by the passing of another year. Similarly, for many of us, our birth was taken over by the speedy intentions of those attending our birth. It is not uncommon to lose our sense of our own timing in this process.
As January rolls along, I have been with many who are finding themselves feeling heavy, depressed, resistant to embracing the promise life offers them. This is not unusual when we have found ways to evade what is most meaningful for us, following more popular distractions or promises from loud advertisements, or people around us. We may be tired from overeating, partying, or even buying or receiving too many Christmas gifts. What happens to the depths of us in all this activity? I find my clients arriving this time of year feeling worn out, deflated after all the excitement and adventure of the holidays.
For myself, I am aware that the holidays offered not only rest and heart-warming family gatherings; they were also marked by grief and loss. My mother, whose health has been gradually deteriorating, went through a sudden decline at the end of November and seems to have endured a small stroke. I feel sad as I witness her new challenges with walking, talking and orientation. I feel grateful that her sweetness remains and everyone seems to still love her as much as ever, but my mom as I knew her, is not quite still here.
At the same time, numerous friends and colleagues are meeting cancerous invasions in their bodies. I witness and support as best I can their valiant attempts to find health in the midst of this embodied chaos. I understand cancer as an expression of cells gone astray, isolated and no longer in resonant communion with the whole. Weakness, weight loss, pain, as well as cognitive effects seem to take over the scene, while the essence of who this person really is strives to express itself. Choices are made about embracing life more fully or embracing death and dying.
I can relate to these challenges. Some years ago, I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. I was confused that this happened shortly after I felt I had made for the first time a strong choice to live. This cancer seemed to be a way for my body to quickly express my earlier ambivalence for life. I had always said that, if I were ever diagnosed with cancer, I would only use alternative treatments. When the moment came, however, there wasn’t time to refuse the surgery. My dermatologist told me I needed to get to her office that very day. This was serious! This was life threatening! In that moment, even with the fear of what this all meant, I had no ambivalence. I got myself to her office and had the surgery.
This was a wake up call like no other in my life to date. It is too easy to fall into survival mode, just taking care of what needs to be taken care of in life, rather than deepening into essential presence and intention. After this emergency surgery, the ongoing pain of the scar served to remind me of the choice I had made. I chose to be here. I had the opportunity to leave but I chose to stay. I see this choice being played out by those I know who have been ill or overwhelmed by other life circumstances. They, like me, are being asked to make a choice. I suspect that their choice will affect them for the rest of their lives, just as mine has.
What Do You Choose?
In view of this, I would like to invite you to take a moment now to consider your own past year, and
Take a moment to reflect on this. It may take much longer than a moment, but allow yourself, if it feels right and useful to you, to be with this within yourself. If these challenging situations were offering you a gift or a lesson or a message, what would it be?
If you find yourself opening to new possibilities here, or re-visiting old ones you had forgotten, make some notes for yourself to remind you later. This is important. This is about touching into your original potential. This is about what you are here for.
Whatever it is, welcome to this life you now find yourself in! Welcome to this moment. May it feed and nurture you in whatever way you may need just now.
I would love to hear from you about how this little exploration has affected you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me to let me know.
Wishing you ease, grace, happiness, peace and embodied potential for this new year!