Photo: © Juliet Fay November 2017
Because we are human with human connections, the holiday season seems to heighten things: love and loss; fear and delight; hope and expectation.
Just knowing it’s a time when Life seems to go crazy with the saturation filter can help us roll a little better with the ups and downs that come through.
It doesn’t always help to know we are the ones ramping up the saturation, sometimes it’s easier just to shrug and take heart, knowing you are not alone. Many many people at this time of year are doing the exact same thing, swinging from exasperation to joy and back again.
Go easy on yourself. There are no prizes on offer here. It’s just Life coming through us with maybe rather more thinking than at other times.
Try not to give that thinking too much oxygen but if you do, don’t worry. Take a little time to do something naughty but nice and as a friend said to me today, ”maybe it’s getting near 50, but I just worry less’. We could all do more of that.
What will be, will be. There may well be tantrums and tears, love and laughter, sorrow and hurt and it’s all part of the rich melting pot of being human.
And if you are missing folk or mourning times past this holiday, know too, it’s okay to have a little weep and for big feelings to sweep through you. There will be many many people around the world, taking a moment to grieve privately. Find comfort in that silent congregation.
Sending much love to you all…..
P.S. Take a look at https://solcare.org/resources/, there’s a free e-guide for you ~ Plagued with doubt? A simple way through ~ when you join my list.
For there, just out of sight, is a space where we don’t need to hold things so tightly. Where there is nowhere to fall but into grace.
Where stories of self and others flutter like Autumn leaves, falling, falling to gently decompose as winter turns to Spring and emerge, transformed.
New shoots from the cold hard earth.
And in this ebb and flow of birth and death, of joy and sorrow, we hear another drum beat.
The deep longing expressing itself in sighs and belly laughs.
The longing to turn away from poring over the flotsam and jetsam on the shores of our awareness.
To wade out beyond our depth and dive into the ocean, down, down to the unexplored territory far below the pull of neap and spring tides.
And as we fall into that deep rest, life rises up, greets us and washes us back upon the shore.
To once again sigh and laugh
Rise and fall
Leave go and let this making and unmaking of Life unfold.
I always wanted to go to the circus, like the ones in black and white movies. There was a romance at the idea of a community of exotic performers and wild animals showing up in their wagons and townsfolk coming together to witness the weird and the wonderful under the vaulted roof of the colourful big top. In the drab grey English winters of my childhood, the circus was beyond exciting.
People waiting with bated breath ready to be swept away by the spectacle unfolding before them. Each act playing different notes in the emotional repertoire: heart in mouth terror at the daring of the high wire acts, admiration for the acrobats and dancers, amazement tinged with concern for those wild animals and then they send in the clowns
At this point it could go one of several directions. Some of the audience might be clutching their sides at the slapstick comedy of people with over-sized shoes, orange wigs and theatrical paint on their faces but some find the thought of clowns sad (as in not funny, or just plain sad) or even sinister. So who knows what can happen when you send in the clowns.
Which is rather how we experience our thoughts. In the Big Top of our mind, just like the circus acts a stream of thoughts show up, some give us feelings of elation, terror, amusement, horror, excitement, fear. Some hang around, tell a story and lead us a merry dance toying with our emotions.
Like the circus acts, we might begin to see our thoughts as an endless source of entertainment. Mostly, unlike the audience in the big top, we don’t realise it’s just a show. We are so glued to the entertainment, so caught in holding our breath as the high wire acts perform dazzling feats above our head that we forget it’s just an act put on for us to experience. Just like the clowns, some acts might bother us and we can get lost in those stories forgetting who we are, lost in the magic (or terror) of the circus.
Now and then we remember we are watching a show but for the most part we lose ourselves and every oooh and aaaah keeps us riveted. And every now and then the Ring Master demands our attention and presents his latest and greatest act.
And who is the ring master, keeping the acts moving, a steady flow of entertainment? When we get curious about the ring master, we might also start to notice the Big Top and the moments when the audience melts away, the acts are all packed up and there is just a huge big empty space. Without the Big Top there would be no circus.
Any time now, the travel companies will entice us with images of relaxed, happy people enjoying fun in the sun to try and sell us holidays for the year ahead. Anyone who has taken holidays will know the reality doesn’t always match up to the sales pitch.
Sure we might have fun but equally we might have arguments, feel down, get ill, feel de-motivated or just feel flat and grumpy on holiday. We might play along with the fiction and post our snaps of ‘fun times’ with gritted teeth behind the smiles, silently railing as kids play up, the weather turns poor or the traffic tails back 10 miles. The reality of holidays is that our feelings go up and down (as they do the rest of the time).
But we do like to cling on to the idea of the perfect holiday where all feels right with the world.
In much the same way, it can be very alluring searching for our ‘best’ selves. Looking to find and pin down the ideal version of ourselves, in the hope that it exists somewhere when life, ourselves or others get off our case. It’s like trying to capture it in a portrait image, frame it, hang it on the wall and proudly proclaim, “here is my best self”. As if that will somehow fool us and others into believing we always feel happy and well.
Because that ‘best self’ we search for is made up.
Looking for it will leave us ever frustrated and disappointed.
There is no such thing.
There is just how we show up, each moment. Sometimes, peaceful, sometimes grumpy, sometimes full of optimism, sometimes downcast. While we believe there is a ‘best self’ to find and put forward, on parade, we are setting ourselves up to be disappointed.
All those inspiring talks that tell us to reach for the stars, find the warrior in you, be the best you, they are innocently but mistakenly missing the transient nature of experience. Thoughts and feelings come and go, up and down and round and round. Events come and go. They are not related. There is no pass to get out of life and all it delivers.
So just as being seduced by the glossy holiday adverts can lead to a false idea of what a holiday actually is, so too chasing the idea of a ‘best you’, can lead to a false idea of what it is to be human and distract us from getting curious about a much more interesting and fruitful enquiry: what underlies the human experience?