It is during the last week of each year that I hunker down and do some reflection. My attempt to reveal what I have gained and what I have lost over the last 365 days. Sometimes, this ritual can be rather transformational.
Socrates proclaimed that “the unexamined life was not worth living.” Our hectic schedules and general busy-ness means it is often difficult to live the fully examined life. But this is the time of year where we can try and make an effort to note our changes, celebrate our wins, and acknowledge the people who mean the most to us.
Here is my mindful reflection of 2014.
My Unexpected Win: Getting rid of my car and becoming a mass transit commuter. The car had to go, it was becoming a money pit and it was 14 years old. Having just committed to starting my business, it was not the time to go car shopping. I did my research and found how easy commuting would be in my current neighborhood and how much money I would save on basic car maintenance, insurance and gas. Still I was looking at the whole event as a compromise from my ideal situation. What a wonderful surprise to learn how much I love traveling by foot, bus and train!
- It is never boring. You meet the most interesting and diverse people. Sure a few of them are crazy and might not smell that great but it is always an enlightening experience.
- I am a happier and calmer person when I don’t drive. I grew up and learned to drive in Massachusetts and we are cutthroat drivers! I lack patience with less skilled or decisive drivers and I now live in the land of “no you go, no you go, no you….aaaah! Just go!!!” I have never adapted my Masshole ways to the kinder, gentler Pacific NW. Not driving has definitely impacted my blood pressure and disposition for the better.
- I have a much deeper relationship with the city I have lived and worked in for the last 20 years. I am learning it in a very intimate way. Experiencing the sights, sounds, wildlife, flora and people in a whole new way and I love my city even more as a result.
- The slower pace (since it takes just a little bit longer to get places) allows me time each day for reflection. I am not hurrying to get to the next location the way I did when I had a car. If I go somewhere, it is because I really want to and the time it takes to get there is wonderful for planning, sorting out my thoughts, meditating, listening to books or music on my phone. This slower pace is something I never thought I would enjoy as much as I do.
- And finally, I am walking regularly and my body loves it! I am not a fan of gyms, classes or sports. I do wish I could change this facet of my personality and still hope I can someday but as of right now, commuting is forced exercise and I find I do it without complaint or resentment primarily because of #3.
My Person of the Year: My mother is my person of the year. Ours has not been always an easy relationship. There have been resentments on both sides. I believe one of the follies of young adulthood is blaming other people for your feelings, decisions, and pain. Moms, especially moms of daughters, carry this blame all too often. Healing myself has always been about uncovering the truth. And the truth is, as I decided to heal my relationship with my mother from a place of love and not blame, everything changed. Real change happened within myself but also within my mother. Did the stars align that we both decided to do this work at the same time? Perhaps. Whatever the circumstance, the outcome has been unexpected, the effects have had tentacles reaching into all relationships in my life, but most deeply those in my family. And I am grateful for the opportunity to experience my mother as the person she is and not just the one role that has had the most impact on me. I am enjoying my time with her and leave our time together feeling happy and fulfilled.
My Moment of Grace (or the lesson learned): A spiritual life is not a special life. All the quotes and memes littering our consciousness, and Facebook page, about spiritual practices often appear grandiose and preachy. Following a path that is born within rather than conforming to society isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty, and it is not for the faint of heart. I have great compassion for all who have chosen to bare their soul and steep in humility along this journey. I also have great compassion for those who passed up the journey, either consciously or unconsciously. Life is hard. What I choose to do with mine is my business and I honor that what each of you has chosen to do with yours, as it is your business. I am not here to judge but just to love and wish each one of us blessings for the road ahead.
W.B. Yeats once wrote: “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.” And I will admit, this year is the 10th year of my conscious spiritual journey and it has been one of the harder ones. I am relieved, and not just a little surprised, to be leaving it behind feeling inspired. An unexpected gift that I hope all of you are feeling after your personal year-end review. I wish you all a fond close to 2014 and infinite blessings for the new year.