It’s a Wrap! Takeaways from 2015.
The floors are strewn with crumpled paper and empty boxes. The joyous anticipation of the season has peaked, and the disarray of post-holiday festivities is losing its charm. Yet, here I am relishing the natural break down of what took weeks to set up.
As I meander between the debris and the decisions of what to pack, recycle, give away and throw away, I realize I am in no hurry to clean any of it up. In fact, about five minutes ago, I imagined throwing all of it away. As someone who feels very uncomfortable with clutter and the accumulation of things, my anxiety is usually at its peak these last few days in December.
It’s probably from exhaustion but no matter, I am in a blissful state of calm now that the holidays are over and it is the end of the year. My noticeable ease in this expanse of paper, half-eaten cookies, unfinished beverages and glittery dust bunnies is giving me reason to pause and reflect.
This year, like every year, was chockfull of life (read ‘controlled chaos’.) It has taken me well into my 40s to realize there is no avoiding it. The industry of self-help and how-to-control-the-chaos is filled with promises and blame that can be more harmful than helpful. Sure, I seek and enjoy my share of inspirational quotes and stress reduction techniques but I also know enough to know that not everything is within my control. I know the only things we can control are ourselves and how we respond to the events in our lives, and even then that can be a stretch.
“YOU NEED TO SIMPLIFY.” UM.
I know I am not alone in this. Like many people, every financial advance I made was drained by another financial demand. My expenses had to do with home ownership, car ownership, parenting, and medical responsibilities. In one of my “Calgon, take me away!” moments, someone actually said to me, “You need to simplify. If you didn’t own a house or a car, you wouldn’t have those issues.” Um. Well. Yes, I suppose.
However, just being alive includes challenges. Those who don’t have those specific responsibilities actually do have other ones. Show me a grown human who has a responsibility- and challenge-free life, and I will show you that person is in fact a corpse or has one thousand servants taking care of everything – and in that case, has at least one thousand responsibilities.
In respect to this, I asked myself if the task at hand really was to avoid challenges and hardships? To want to avoid them is human, sure, but actually avoiding them is impossible. Besides, what if we could avoid them? What then? (I know: a pied-à-terre in Paris and endless glasses of wine with no hangovers. The list is endless, really….)
MORE HUMANITY, PLEASE.
What if we focused instead on how we address and engage those challenges and hardships? How might we be more productive within these challenges? How might we be more compassionate towards ourselves and towards others facing hardships? In other words, how might our humanity deepen?
Here is the shortlist of my takeaways from this year. May it inform, inspire and empower all of us in ways that deepen our unique and shared human experiences. The world needs us to love and to share our humanity.
- Time and money are both spent. Only one can be saved. Realize which one it is, and then spend the other one wisely, preferably with the people you love, doing what you love, as much and as often as possible.
- Do something out of kindness and consideration. Hold the door open for someone. Offer to mentor a colleague. It can be big or small, it doesn’t matter. Compassion does.
- Change happens. You can make it and be it, but you can’t change the fact that it happens.
- Do not underestimate the power of friendship. Friends are often the only people we have who can remind us of our value and worth, and our path and dreams. Learn to lean and learn to support. We are made stronger together.
- Love. Love. Love. And please, “Treat yo’ self.”
- Go ahead, cry “Uncle!” And when you do, make sure you say it loud enough for someone else to hear. It’s not about the rescue but it is about being human. Besides, you never know who has a cape and tights or a bottle of prosecco at the ready. Hell, they might even have to borrow yours but sometimes you gotta let someone else wear them. At least it makes for a good laugh.
- Fear truly is “False Evidence Appearing Real”. The imagination is an extremely powerful and influential thing. Do your best to ask questions and seek answers. Knowledge is key.
- Humans are the same all over the world. All of us need food, water, air, and connection. We will do whatever it takes to get it. Some do it more elegantly than others but elegance does not determine worthiness. As my grandmother used to say, “You can buy many things but dignity and love are not among them.”
- Presence is the best present and needs no wrapping.
- Say, “Yes”, and see what happens. Then say, “Yes”, again, and join what happens. (Safety first, of course :D)