The cold has settled in here in New York. We made our first fire of the season this weekend and I unearthed my heavy duty winter coat from the back of the closet. There was a crumpled up dollar bill and an old face mask in one of the pockets. I flashed back to last winter. The plans we’d made for Thanksgiving - which were all canceled last minute due to pandemic related mayhem - and the feeling I’d had at the time. Something along the lines of: attempting “normal” prematurely is not worth the pain of disappointment when it all falls apart.
Better to aim low than lofty.
Beliefs like this are just crappy leftover dust bunnies in the corners of my subconscious mind. I’m working at cleaning them out, one cobweb at a time. It’s slow work but important to do.
I don’t mind the cold most of the time. It clears out the path where I like to walk the dogs and it turns the bare mountains purple in the morning sun. I’m sure I’ll be whistling a different tune by February but for now, a thing in its newness dazzles in ways I struggle to imagine ever changing.
We talked about this in my class last week - the difference between the things we deeply see and the ones we take for granted. I shared a story about how, in a fleeting thought, I tried to remember what the faucet in my kitchen sink looks like. This is an item in my house I touch a hundred million times in a day it seems. But when I consciously tried to picture it in my mind’s eye, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t.
At first I thought my brain was trolling me randomly but then I realized it was feeding me a metaphor. The more familiar something is, the more we tend to look past it and stop truly seeing it.
This is true for our relationship with ourselves more than any other in our lives. Living in our own skin, being creatures who are oriented to look outward, it’s hard to remember to also look in.
To live in loving friendship with ourselves might be the true aim of our incarnation. It might just be the whole entire point. If you’ve ever been in a room with someone who has cultivated this kind of connection with themselves, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It feels rare and tangible and utterly magnetic. We want, naturally, to be near people who are at peace with themselves and genuinely enjoying their own company.
Why is this?
I think it’s because people who are at peace with themselves are safe. They’ve given up the fight. They’re not interested in criticizing themselves. They’re not interested in stressing the differences between us. They’re invested in seeing past illusion, straight into the heart of our undeniable connectedness with one another.
The more we learn about human nature, the more we see how much the notion of safety governs our choices and our lives. This is also why so many of us struggle to evolve and move up the levels of growth that exist along the path of actualization. Growth implies change and change doesn’t always feel safe, In fact, it hardly ever feels safe. So deep, thoughtful reassurance is called for anytime we embrace a risk in our journeys and move away from the known into the great mystery of what wants to come next.
As the holiday season begins, let’s remember what it means to be in friendship with ourselves. Let’s remember to pay attention to how we’re feeling and what we need. This can be a very loaded, supercharged time of year for many. Keep offering the gift of loving acceptance, kindness and care to yourself. As you tend your own light, it shines like a beacon for other people too. You never know how your smile, your energy, your tiny gestures might affect someone else in profound ways. This is such an inspiring idea to consider in the midst of it all.
Sending love and gratitude,