Monday, December 31, 2012

Past Year Contemplation: 2012

"Prosperity to All" in Latin, "Safe Journey" in Sanskrit, "To Life!" in Hebrew, "Eat, Drink and Be Merry" in Gaelic
I spent some time this morning thinking about the past year.

It was kind of a rough one for my family.  There was crisis and death.
There was fear, heartache, desperation and anger.  There were moments of weakness and doubt and worry and frustration that took me to dark places.  I’ve been reminded of the inevitability of my own mortality and the possibility of losing those I hold most dear.   I’ve become more aware of the ticking of the clock – of the hours of my life passing at a seemingly ever-accelerating pace, and the changes that aging brings.

But I also feel like this year has been one of significant learning for me – precisely because it has been so challenging.  I think that this year has taught me to learn from every experience – to be a student of my own life.  To see every event – the good, the bad, the random, the intentional – as an opportunity to observe myself and the world around me and try to understand it and myself better, and therefore learn to navigate and cope and contribute better.

I’ve been getting better at widening my perspective, seeing the greater patterns - overarching and underlying webs of cause and effect, of influence and unfolding processes.  The very real reality of how everything and everyone is connected.  How our thoughts shape our experiences, our behavior, our lives and the lives of all around us.  How the connections we perceive and the meanings we assign create our reality.  As I grok this more and more deeply, I realize how much power I have to consciously create and change my life.

I’m on the cusp of 40 years old, which seems to me a general half-way mark, if I live to old age.  Realizing that has given me a bit of a jolt; a kick in the pants to help propel me forward with plans and dreams I have been kind of vaguely puttering around with.  This realization coincides with other developments that have been slowly coalescing throughout my life, coming together in ways that I am only now beginning to be aware of.

Looking back, I start to glimpse the cycles of my life.  I realize that I have ups and downs.  I am mostly a positive and optimistic person, but at times I sink into depression, self doubt, paralyzing fear and procrastination.  It’s something I am slowly gaining more control over. Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned about that aspect of myself is that it is always temporary.  I am starting to learn how to remain aware of that, even when I am in the darker places…to allow myself to ride it out, knowing that I will find my way back to the light. And to trust those who love me, and accept their comfort and reassurances when I cannot trust my own self-perceptions.  The more I practice this, the shorter the bad moods last, and the easier it is to shake them off.

Looking back, I see that I have failed over and over and over again.  Seriously – I have tried so many different things in my art career – and most of them have met with a tiny bit of success, but nothing close to recompense for the time, effort, money and energy invested.  Over and over and over again I have done this.

Strangely, at this point, this pattern does not indicate to me that I am a Failure.  What it tells me is that failure is not as scary as I once thought.
I am still here.
I am still trying.
And I’m better at what I do than I have ever been before.
This applies to my career, my relationships, my self-awareness and control.
Every failure teaches me something that I apply to the next attempt.  My failures haven’t broken me, or ruined my life or doomed me to misery. 
On the contrary, they have helped me build a better understanding of my self and the world that now guides me to navigate it with more confidence and determination than ever.

I have learned a lot this year, but I also know that I have much yet to learn.  I start to feel like I’ve got things All Figured Out, then I realize I am mistaken about something and am humbled and must admit my ignorance and helplessness. 
But that is the first step to further learning.  We must admit we have room to learn in order to be open to the teaching.

And I have many amazing teachers;  my family, my friends, my husband, the work of teachers and authors and speakers and filmmakers and artists who share their visions and ideas.  Even random strangers and brief encounters. The world itself, observed through personal experience and the ever-improving tools of science.  The sense of Wonder that drives me to soak it all in and put it all together like an amazingly complex and ineffably beautiful, ever-shifting puzzle.

I have many things I still want to improve in myself and my life- bad habits to break, good habits to install.  Dreams to catch and  fears to release.  I think this year I have found some tools with which to tackle those challenges.  I have a better sense of both my limitations and my potential.  At least I think I do!  :)

The world did not end in 2012.
Some say we have entered a New Age.  I don’t know if there is a Cosmic Calendar that moves us, but I do feel that I am, personally, entering a new age.  I think 2013 is going to be a year of unprecedented accomplishment for me.  I am determined to strive and to thrive, and to continue to learn.

And I hope that all of you will find the lessons and inspiration you need to move forward with strength and joy.  Thank you for your presence in my life.  <3
Happy New Year!