This past year has asked much of us. The Corona pandemic that’s overshadowed life in our neighbourhood and around the world forced us to change and adapt in ways thus far unimagined. We humans are an agile species by and large and we rose to the occasion, sometimes with grace, often with groans and grumbles. Thinking that we could soothe fear with toilet paper showed the quirkiness of our nature. We polished our courage, resilience and creativity to meet unfamiliar challenges and navigate an unfamiliar world. Few of us are skipping toward the end of the year, for many is feels more like we are limping gingerly through the last days of 2020.
Coming to the end of a year, no matter how strange it’s been for each of us, there is a natural gap, a threshold to a fresh start, and new beginning seems on offer as the year turns. Germans call the time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve ‘the days between the years’. Like the no-mans-land between two borders, these days invite to transition, one foot out of the old and one foot toward the new. The bonds to the year just gone already loosening, the sight tilting toward the yet untouched freshness of the year to come.
Recently I’ve heard quite a few people say that they couldn’t wait to get out of 2020 and into 2021, as if the calendar and life events were somehow in cahoots, as if the hardships of the past months respectfully decided to stay in the old year. Of course they don’t but still, we do have a say over what we take into the future and what we leave behind. The turning of the year invites to reflect on what burdensome things we may take out of the imaginary backpack of our lives so that we can leave them behind in the old year. And make space for the new. If we take out resentment, we may make space for forgiveness. Drop disappointment and hope can arise. Meet our hurt and self-compassion may follow. Placing anger down gingerly to seed active change. Letting go of fear we may find joy. Inviting life, we may soften loneliness.
Personally, over the past year, I have needed to let go of things dear and valued; painfully, I’ve said good-bye to some people and to important places; with apprehension, I’ve resigned from my roles at university and as Director of Training at AABCAP; and deliberately I’ve let go of burdens that no longer serve me. And already, with a little space, new beings are arriving in my life; a new home is coming into sight, my psychotherapy practice is flourishing at twice the rate and seeds of new adventures are germinating.
More than any other time, in the last days of December the words of the poet Mary Oliver echo in my mind: ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’
May these words set your mind on fire, too, as we step over the threshold into 2021.
Wishing you a restful time ahead, a time of loving and laughing. A time of freedom to replenish your spirit and a time of reflection to find clarity and ease.
Looking forward to connecting with you in 2021.