2022 Here We Are

Many ideas, intentions and thoughts circulate at the beginning of a calendar year in western culture, and often some reflection is given to important acknowledgments of the year just passed. New years are a time to review, reflect, recharge, and ideally look to new beginnings, no matter what occurs. Naturally, in the throes of personal crisis or grief, we need be present to that in the healthiest of ways. In those times it may provide us the opportunity to be more certain as to what comforts or soothes us, or even who. Belonging, connection and community seem to matter more and more when we face a crisis, or feel separated from others, or perhaps lose direction.

So many species in nature understand the cycles of living, of being able to adapt when food becomes scarce, or weather conditions alter their course, or they lose some from their herd or flock. Sandhill cranes are other worldly to watch. They generally travel long distances in a chevron shape, and circling if they need wait for others to catch up. To see them in the air, or coming in for a landing or standing in fields munching as part of the north/south migration, it can be inspiring. Inspiring by the rarity for many of us to get to see these birds, but also to witness their community, and nature doing what nature knows to do no matter the threats, most not of nature’s making, but nature continues doing what she has always done.

There is a true awe feeling to hear the slow sound of flapping wings as a crane passes overhead, or the deep trill purring sound cranes make to alert, locate, communicate with one another. Depending on the numbers of cranes in a group on the ground, one or more will have the role of sentry or look out, so the others can eat and explore. They take turns.

When we look up to see cranes in flight we may be seeing a couple, or a couple with their offspring, or any additional configuration of that, but rarely do they fly alone. They are a community, being together in this new year, doing what they always have done, heading south to feed, and soon headed north. Together they fly, look out for each other, and go in the same direction. They do this now and every year. There is a beauty to constancy, and moving in a forward direction together. 2022, here we are.

(Photo credit LLZ)

New Day’s Lyric

May this be the day
We come together.
Mourning, we come to mend,
Withered, we come to weather,
Torn, we come to tend,
Battered, we come to better.
Tethered by this year of yearning,
We are learning
That though we weren’t ready for this,
We have been readied by it.
We steadily vow that no matter
How we are weighed down,
We must always pave a way forward.

This hope is our door, our portal.
Even if we never get back to normal,
Someday we can venture beyond it,
To leave the known and take the first steps.
So let us not return to what was normal,
But reach toward what is next.

What was cursed, we will cure.
What was plagued, we will prove pure.
Where we tend to argue, we will try to agree,
Those fortunes we forswore, now the future we foresee,
Where we weren’t aware, we’re now awake;

Those moments we missed
Are now these moments we make,
The moments we meet,
And our hearts, once all together beaten,
Now all together beat.

Come, look up with kindness yet,
For even solace can be sourced from sorrow.
We remember, not just for the sake of yesterday,
But to take on tomorrow.

We heed this old spirit,
In a new day’s lyric,
In our hearts, we hear it:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.

Be bold, sang Time this year,
Be bold, sang Time,
For when you honor yesterday,
Tomorrow ye will find.
Know what we’ve fought
Need not be forgotten nor for none.
It defines us, binds us as one,
Come over, join this day just begun.
For wherever we come together,
We will forever overcome.

Poet Amanda Gorman wrote this poem with the “aim to celebrate the new year and honor both the hurt and humanity of the last one.”

Impatience

Author and Mindfulness teacher/practitioner Jon Kabat-Zinn is part of the Master Class series currently online. In watching, he mentioned different attitudes or habits that can get in our way of being mindful, of being fully aware in the present moment or experience. One attitude he mentioned that can get in the way is impatience. He spoke of impatience as the attitude or feeling that communicates “let’s hurry and get through this now “. Sometimes it can seem to others, that this moment for the impatient person isn’t as good as something coming up after this. It can feel like the future is more enjoyable than this right now moment, which if we spend a lot of time with an impatient person, they are rarely satisfied.That doesn’t feel too good to be around. It seems always about what is “next”.

Jon described impatience as a form of abuse, to ourselves, and the others in our orbit who are on the receiving end. That was a fresh way of thinking about impatience. He mentioned impatience can be harsh for others to experience, especially in a repetitive way, when that is someone’s habitual attitude. It is hard to relax around impatient people. We can get triggered. We may feel rushed so we do not ask the questions we need to ask or take the time needed to fully understand something or have the time to savor the unexpected because impatience doesn’t allow for that. Kabat-Zinn suggested there can be a type of violence in the impatience, as an attitude in terms of how it lands on others. He was asking us to be aware and notice when we might feel impatient, or be with someone impatient, and how did that attitude affect our ability to be present in the moment.

It is interesting to be thinking about impatience in this way. Some of us have moments of impatience, but it might not be our primary response and attitude. A more constantly impatient person may see themselves as quicker to comprehend things or faster to get something accomplished. And that attitude brings in judgment and comparison of the moment and experience. We all judge, yet it is how we respond. Do we act on it? One way would be impatience.

Reflecting on impatience, might come some sense of “I know. I know”. Maybe the “expert” gets impatient with those learning on a subject they have been immersed for years. Jon Kabat-Zinn said he doesn’t consider himself a Master. This is a non-Master class in his mind. He spoke to the idea of an expert can get limited and closed off to new ideas or considering new information or maybe even seeing what is right there because they have shut the door on some things figuring they know versus keeping open curiosity. That is beginners mind. We look and experience as though a beginner and our first thoughts. And in that place there is less room for impatience.

In Uncertain Times

In uncertain times, as a way to find wisdom and possible guidance, we can look to insightful mentors or texts for reflection and comfort. We need not be alone in our uncertainty or struggle. We can be reminded that others have been through this and found their way through.

There is a time for being ahead, a time for being behind;

A time for being in motion, a time for being in rest;

A time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted;

A time for being safe, a time for being in danger.

The Tao

The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them.

She lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle.

Jack Kornfield

Gandhi

Looking for quotes or bon mots to inspire, to make one think, or to make sense of crazy times, whatever one’s motivation, we can find fresh ones to reconsider. What makes a quote or mentor catch our attention? Is it because it supports something we already believe? Is it because it answers something for us we hadn’t known we were struggling to understand? Does it open up something inside of us once we realize it was said or done decades or centuries earlier and can still seem relevant? Or do we wonder if a quote has been attributed to someone and may or may not be accurate? Can it still have value regardless as a message in some form?

Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Herman Hesse Quote

Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.

Herman Hesse

Upon reflection this quote speaks to the idea of gossip, sharing an idea, giving a pep talk, or having a vision. When something is spoken out loud, it does become a little different. It might add energy or take it away. It may feel good, bad or neutral but no matter what, when we speak something out loud, either to ourselves or others, everything becomes a little different.

Friendship

Aristotle characterized friendship into three types, an interesting framework to consider: friendship of utility, friendship of pleasure, and friendship of the good.

Friendship of utility might be our relationship with our favorite hairdresser. It is a relationship established on mutual practical benefit and may terminate as soon as that benefit is over for whatever reason, but we behave in a friendly manner while it lasts.

Friendship of pleasure would pertain to those we spend time on a shared activity like golf, bridge, movie going or wine club If we lose interest in that particular hobby or location, the friendship of pleasure may also end once the ease to get together is gone.

Friends of the good is when two people enjoy each other for their own sake because they find in each other an affinity of character that does not require externalities like a business exchange or hobby. In those cases, as Aristotle puts it, our friends become mirrors to our souls, helping us grow and become better persons just because they care about us. This kind of distinction could also apply to our relationships with family members or with our companion.

Aristotle was not a Stoic. The Stoics would have said that the only friendship that truly deserves to be called a friendship is that of the good.

from Massimo Pigliucci’s “How to Be a Stoic” pg 198

Budda Quotes

Even if these aren’t exact Budda Quotes when they were found online they struck a chord.

“Be where you are otherwise you will miss your life.”

“Be a good person but don’t waste time to prove it.”

Maybe as we come out of isolation from the intensity of the past pandemic year and a half, having some sage ways or words is a way for us to consider ourselves. Or maybe nature is a way to self soothe, and bring ourselves back to our own calm center. Or engaging in an art form, like music, writing, painting or innovating some creative idea. If we each find our ways or words to self soothe, when we interact with others, our curiosity and kindness may feel most natural.

The Summer Solstice

Summer solstice represents a time to reflect upon the blessings we have received in seasons past and look toward new growth.

Just as the summer solstice is symbolic of agricultural growth, so is it symbolic of personal growth. It is a wonderful time to nurture your potential as you would nurture a tiny seedling and let your creative energy express itself fully. On the summer solstice, you may feel compelled to emulate the noontime sun and be at one with the world around you or to let your inner brilliance shine forth at full strength, if only for a single day. Your life, like the seasons, follows a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and summers, whether literal or figurative, can always be celebrated. 
shared from “Daily Om” by Madisyn Taylor