I don’t know about any of you but I kind of woke up this morning with this feeling like “what the hell just happened?” I felt the weight of all that occurred last year, squarely in my chest. Then I opened my eyes and found that it was just an overweight cat using me as a heating pad.
But as I fumbled to the kitchen, a bit foggy as I stayed up too late, I realized that instead of excitement for the new year, I appear to have a hang over from 2020 which was disheartening.
I really like things to be clean. To have sharp lines around things, clear edges. So I really, really wanted 2020 to go and have 2021 arrive with a renewed feeling of hope. Instead I feel like I am exhausted and not really able to jolly myself into this new day and new year...
I think one reason I feel this way is that I have lost all outward markers. I am at home, my kids are at home, we can’t go anywhere or really do much of anything and even though this is not new, it is landing on me in a new way that is foreign and I can’t recognize. I have always been able to whip myself into some new fervor about the year to come. Setting intentions and resolutions. Being able to restart things that might have lapsed or launching wholeheartedly into something new and exciting...
However, today I am just not feeling it. I want to. I really, really want to. To buy into that idea or feeling that THIS year is going to be different! However, I am not feeling it this morning. I am sitting in bed, writing, sipping coffee and feel overwhelmed by the sameness of my day and the lack of real change on the immediate horizon.
Recently, I have been given an instruction to not start anything new or stop anything ongoing. This feels like I have been asked to wholly abandon who and what I am. It has been excruciating as I have been in this instruction since November.
For someone who is always launching, targeting, acquiring and changing, I feel bereft. I feel lost. I feel like I have lost something fundamental about myself while at the same time recognizing that I didn’t even really like that part of myself anyway...
It is a weird place to be. Surrounded by all this hope for 2021 and still feeling like I haven’t quite grasped 2020. I think part of me is feeling this way because I have been told to not start anything new and yet here is a new year and with it comes new ideas, intentions and ways of being. I want to draft a new plan. I want to stop doing certain things to make way for new things to happen.
As much as I hate this edict, I am following it to the best of my ability.
Because there is not one part of me that wants to do this. Not one single part of me. In fact, ever since I was given this instruction there has been a quiet assembly of all of my will preparing for an insurrection, the troops are ready, battle gear donned, weapons drawn...and yet, here I sit, sipping coffee completely nonplussed about my impotent battle readiness.
What I have found is that my receptor for still and quiet and down and less is almost non-existent. I am having trouble keeping the stuff that I had going before going (which wasn’t much) and every ounce of me wants to start anything new, I don’t even really care what new thing I start.
So I find myself caught in a trap that I can’t spring. I know that the instruction is right...how do I know that? Because there is not one single part of me that wants to do it. I want to morph, shift, change, launch, grab, acquire, DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO DO!
Fuckity, fuck, fuck, FUCK!
So what is one to do when you meet yourself in the middle of your own resistance? Do you surrender and remit? Do you mount the attack anyway, instruction be damned? What do you do when everything you had going felt like it wasn’t working and yet, despite this very real feeling, you just sit with the shit anyway? I guess it is called growth - it doesn’t feel like growth...it feels like stagnation and yet, here I am not starting anything new and not stopping anything that was ongoing...
I am doing this because I don’t want to and I have found that growth and change happens on the other side of me doing that which I find to be incredibly uncomfortable. And believe me, THIS IS INCREDIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE.
So as 2021 arrives, I feel a crush of panic with the new being forced upon me when I am really trying to not start anything new. So for me, there will be no new intentions or resolutions as I am trying desperately to just follow the simple instructions I have been given. Simple, they are, excruciating mentally, physically exhausting which all results in me not wanting to do much of anything today.
Perhaps sometimes, the best one can hope for is a better understanding of where you currently are. And for me, I can see that my strategies for existence need some fine tuning and that fine tuning is going to happen by me just sitting here continuing to do the same stupid shit day after day as I can’t start anything new to exit this whole emotional quagmire...and I can’t allow myself to sink into the morass of self pity and depression because I am not allowed to stop doing what I was doing before...
As 2021 kicks off, I feel stuck in a year that every one has been trying to escape from. But, for some reason, here I am doing what I am told anyway. I like to think that I am getting some sort of new awareness but so far it just feels hard, uncomfortable and lacking a great deal of luster...but perhaps that is the point. Always striving for the lustery, shiny new thing has rendered my life a continual reprise of maladaptive strategies which has resulted in living a life of privation.
So this is what I have to say:
Dear 2021 -
Hi. Welcome. There is a lot of shit riding on you. The whole world has pinned their hopes and dreams on your shoulders, except me. I am just over here doing what I was doing last year and am not starting anything new with your arrival. Guess I just want you to know that I am here for you when you get your ass handed to you when everyone is pissed that you can’t deliver on all the expectations...I am not starting anything new so I am ok (well not really, I fucking hate it to be honest) but I am not going to expect a lot to change since I am just doing what I was doing before. Forgive me for not jumping on the bandwagon...I really, really, really fucking want to, but apparently the lesson I am going to get it going to come with me just sitting still and not changing much of my external landscape...which totally blows as I much prefer doing that to sitting still for even five minutes.
2021, you have your work cut out for you, except for me, I am good even though it feels like shit. I know you are going to deliver some amazing feats this year because every new year brings amazing things, and I also know that you have some blows to level. And I am ok with that too...even though it feels somewhat dangerous to say that. I know that none of us are guaranteed safe passage. And that the best I can do is trust that regardless of what happens and how I feel about it, I will be ok, even if I am so not ok. All things come to pass eventually...even me.
The best I can offer everyone on this first day of 2021 is this prayer as it has been around forever and is my best attempt at not starting anything new, while not stopping anything ongoing...
May all beings everywhere
Plagued by sufferings of body and mind
Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy
By virtue of my merits.
May no living creature suffer,
Commit evil, or ever fall ill.
May no one be afraid or belittled,
With a mind weighed down by depression.
May the blind see forms
And the deaf hear sounds,
May those whose bodies are worn with toil
Be restored on finding repose.
May the naked find clothing,
The hungry find food;
May the thirsty find water
And delicious drinks.
May the poor find wealth,
Those weak with sorrow find joy;
May the forlorn find hope,
Constant happiness, and prosperity.
May there be timely rains
And bountiful harvests;
May all medicines be effective
And wholesome prayers bear fruit.
May all who are sick and ill
Quickly be freed from their ailments.
Whatever diseases there are in the world,
May they never occur again.
May the frightened cease to be afraid
And those bound be freed;
May the powerless find power,
And may people think of benefiting each other.
For as long as space remains,
For as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then may I too remain
To dispel the miseries of the world.
-Shantideva, 8th century AD