I know you’re all aware that the turning of a calendar year, the mere ticking over of a clock, doesn’t necessarily mean that our lives, or the happenings around us, are suddenly about to take on a different sheen or fundamentally change. Yes – it’s a good reminder, a great opportunity, to reflect on what has been and what might be. To assimilate and integrate all of those things we have grown and expanded, and to shake off or forgive all that has not served us well. It’s a great help to mark the turning of the year as a moment for reflection and to set our intentions again for who we want to keep becoming.
But before we bolt the gate, let’s turn our minds towards who we are already. What is here, and what is the nature of my being, and the being I see around me, right now, still in 2016? Whilst most of us might now already be focussed on who we might wish to ‘become’ in 2017, both being and becoming are inalterably linked as two sides of the same coin. There is no becoming without first just being. The paradox always being that although yes, we must keep becoming and keep working to grow ourselves and the world into better being (because we are here to create are we not?), we must also settle lovingly into our very being, as we are, and our world as it is.
I have no doubt that our becoming, both personally and globally, will keep unfolding (and trust me, I’ll get to that post soon enough). Yet given the New Year is a time when peoples’ minds turn towards change, and ‘bettering’, what if you also contemplated what the year ahead would be like if nothing changed? Literally nothing! What if you knew that the life you have now, the ‘you’ you are now, would remain static in the year ahead. Same job or lack of job; same body and health (or lack of health); same home; same relationships. That may be some cause for disappointment or concern and also some cause for gratitude and celebration. For we are always fearing losing some things, and always fearing not attaining others. There are things I am losing that in truth I would rather not be losing. There are things I wish for that may not happen. And of course there are ‘good’ things I ‘have’ that I am deeply grateful for, and ‘not-so-good’ things that I have been spared. All of this is very human and compassion is warranted for the circumstances we may find ourselves in at times. Yet there is no place to get to where the gain will outweigh the loss, no place where the balance of Yin and Yang can be overthrown. Our resolution could instead be to reach out our arms in acceptance to become the circle that encompasses both. As the Zen teacher Susan Murphy reminds us, the nature of things is to be:
Sun-face Buddha, Moon-face Buddha. Night and Day. Gain and Loss. Deepest acceptance of here and now.
For it is always, paradoxically, only in acceptance that we are transformed.
Imagine such a year of no-change and notice what you feel. Some discomfort, but perhaps also some relief? What might you do with yourself if there was nothing to strive for? If you couldn’t change the variables in your life where might your energy instead go? You could of course settle into despair and a sense of powerlessness. But you might also feel the freedom in relinquishing the illusion of control. What might you have more room to appreciate and enjoy, even celebrate? How much easier might it be to be able to ‘be here now’? As Hafiz says:
Abstain from love (now!)
When like the beautiful snow goose
Someday your soul
Will leave this summer
So as the year turns I offer you this contemplation – rather than trying to ‘be the change’, why not practise first acceptance of whatever change, and lack-of-change is happening right now and see how that might radically transform your being. For it may be that any ‘resolutions’ of any worth can only arise out of a place of pure acceptance anyway, and that any intentions that arise from a rejection of the now are doomed to have us chasing our tails all the way home again. We cannot create something new from a headspace that is locked on a rejection of the old. True creativity arises only out of the emptiness of the present moment, and a year ahead cannot yet be new – but this very moment can be.
Wishing you a great many blessings now and for the year ahead,
(Photo via Unsplash – Ian Schneider)