After a birthday morning meditation, I’ve been guided to write down my insights from the past year. We’ve all been promoted this year to confront our worst fears, have our most tender selves exposed, out anger foisted, and our anxiety flamed in the face of a global pandemic that we have no personal control of over. An event that seeped into our lives like a rising tide, quickening our pulses and pushing us to the limits of our empathy. But within this global event, an energy of awareness has been born, a catalyst for self-re-evaluation and change.
When asked to reflect on what have been my greatest achievements this year and what I’d like to carry forward into the next, this thirty-fourth rotation around the sun, my instinctive responded was … I survived and I’d like to keep doing that. A small voice inside counters that idea and says, no you’ve thrived. So many people have been repulsed by the suggestion that people could be thriving in such a harsh time or that it’s somehow an affront to even suggest it. But what does it mean to thrive – is it just about baking sourdough? Thriving is defined as the act of growing vigorously. I think too often we attribute positives or negatives to everything in life but the act of change and growth is a force, it pushes through old beliefs and strips back disillusion, it’s strong and it can be rapid, sometimes violent and at the very least uncomfortable. However, if we are emotionally prepped to be aware of it, we can recognize the side effect as something that is blossoming in new directions. At the beginning of this pandemic, many amongst us, myself included scoffed at the idea of wearing a mask, I think I even told a friend who sent a photo flying with one that it was unusual, it made me uncomfortable. A week later not only was I wearing one, but the paradigm had shifted, and I’d become a staunch advocate.
Amongst the adversity of the year, I have managed to keep myself employed, a blessing so many have not been afforded. I’ve been surrounded by people who love me, locally, globally if not for the most part at a distance. I’ve pondered questions about society, governance, race, equality and forced myself into uncomfortable parts of a preconditioned psyche, with the deep hope that I would emerge from this with a greater capacity for empathy, love, apology and self-forgiveness. Anxiety has knocked on my door, but not overcome me as it has in years previous. Self-hatred creeps in – and I’m working on it. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve drank, I’ve eaten… a lot! I’ve created and kept creating with people whom I admire and respect.
The drain and toll that a year like this can take can be great. My headspace has cycled: Employment: uncertain, Heath: uncertain, Immigration status: uncertain, Apartment security: uncertain, Career: uncertain, Whether I can even get home to Australia if I had to: uncertain. Yet in the face of so much uncertainty a sort of surrender and resignation washed over me. Be kind, take it a day at a time, many of us have come to these realizations. We have no other choice – but of course we do, we have the choice to give into panic and hopelessness, let despair seep in. And there are times that we all find ourselves there within the clutches of fear. But love for each other and for self – this can anchor us to all those things we have to be grateful for. Now if this year hasn’t forced vigorous growth then I don’t know what else will. It may have been in the face of great adversity, but we have all in our own ways been thriving nonetheless, in ways we may think are small, even if we can’t see them.
I will choose this year to continue my practice of gratitude and focus on love. Continue to tell my fear that it is small and boring and that I love it for doing its job and protecting me but that it’s time to take the back seat. I will meditate and find space in silence for myself each day. Time just to exist. I strive to be conscious of my energy and where I choose to invest it. I choose to be aware of those who invest in me and align my flow to those people. It’s been a rough year for many of us in many ways, but beauty grows of gain, our suffering can be a tool, otherwise it’s rendered as just pain. And we can all strive to inch a little closer to joy every time that awareness affords us the moment of choice.