Updated: Jul 27, 2020
January 2018 Soul Notes
David Whyte's poem, 'Sometimes', invites us to pause and to listen to what emerges. Simple and yet so challenging in our busy lives. As I pause and think about the year ahead, I’m aware I will enter my 50th year of life in 2018. Carl Jung observed that “The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.” I'm guessing I'm well into the second half of life by now and I can definitely feel the tension of my ego defence as I move inward.
I’ve spent many a long afternoon over the holiday gazing into the flames of my roaring hearth as the light dims into evening outside and the rain and the wind lash the windows. The wildness of the elements, contrasted with the warm invitation and calm of my sanctuary has been striking and feels like a metaphor for life. I’ve felt safe and warm and soothed and restored inside. Contemplative and reflexive. Writing and reflecting on the year past and extracting the gifts to carry them forward into this new year. The future feels uncertain. A new chapter. Exciting. Fierce. Full of adventure and unexplored waters. However, it somehow feels easier to stay indoors right now and wait until the wind calms and the rain stops.
Last year was a year of huge transition for me personally and professionally. I qualified as a counsellor after five years of training and began working in a new way with my handful of therapy clients. My coaching and consulting practice is evolving as I work more deeply, more honestly and in a more challenging way with a diverse array of clients and organisations. I’m daring to be more visible as I write more. I’ve had so much fun in the past year, spending special time with people dear to me and my daughter. She is firmly a teenager now and we are both navigating this new stage in our relationship as she oscillates between wanting to separate and stay small.
As I watch and read all the exhortations to reinvent ourselves as the new year arrives, I reflect that I'm the same person today as the one who went to bed on the eve of 1 January. There was no overnight transformation. However, the slowing down of the holidays has allowed me to connect with myself more fully so that I can bring more of that full self to my daily life of 2018. Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, writes of learning to trust "deep time", what the Greeks would call kairos, rather than chronological time, chronos. Kairos is the place where we find meaning and evolve our consciousness and is outside the linear, striving busyness of the lives that most of us lead a lot of the time. I find it hard to stay in and to trust the space of deep time. I become fearful that I won't "get anywhere", that it is a "waste of time" but I can also sense that there is an innate wisdom in learning to surrender to it. I know that here are the questions that can "make my life" as the poet describes. As I have allowed myself to let go of the goals and measuring stick for 2018, I've found some quieter and more meaningful intentions. I’ve decided that I’d like this to be a year of more compassion for myself as well as others. A year where I'm more honest and say and do more of what I feel and want. Where I ask for forgiveness rather than permission and reach into the direction of my longing. A year to be bigger and bolder, to make more mistakes, to laugh uncontrollably often, to revel in this precious new moment of this new day of this new year. The old me, growing more into my true self rather than pleasing others. I don’t know what that will be like for you or for me. I hope it will be kind and loving and charged and raw and fun. I expect it will sometimes be clumsy and awkward but we’ll manage it.
Whatever age you are, I imagine you too, didn’t transform overnight at the turn of the year. But maybe you paused too and some "tiny requests" emerged from within? Perhaps there is a part of you that’s been a little quiet over the years that would like to make an appearance this year? Is there a longing you’d like to make real or an aspect of yourself just wishing to be expressed? James Hollis writes in What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life, that “We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.” My wish for us all this year is that we can do just that and share our questions and stories along the way.
With love for the days ahead....