I think I know why people leave self-reflection for the week before the new year.
Not the small reflections, you understand – not the “why didn’t I learn this the last time I did it” kind – the big self-reflections. The “why is this a habit I’m perpetuating” kind.
The “how has my life come to this” kind.
The “what didn’t I do last year that I can do about it this year” kind.
I think it’s the onslaught.
Whatever your holiday, the season takes over quite obviously from around November onwards. With the infiltration of social media into everyday life, it is hard to ignore the collective sigh which goes up when the first set of decorations make their way into your local mall; when the first festive songs are heard over the radio… on and on it goes merry-and-brightly bulldozing it’s way into the collective consciousness
The first collective sigh seems to indicate the very beginning – the deep rumble you feel rather than hear. Then almost immediately afterwards, the Elf appears, the skies echo with screeches about Christmas, and humanity hurls itself headlong down the mountainside, like an avalanche.
Even those who have built little strongholds of preparation aren’t immune. Somewhere along the way, the onslaught gets you, even if it only gets you a little frost bitten along the edges.
Life becomes a turmoil of immersion or avoidance, interspersed with desperate surfacing for air – great gulps of gratitude these aren’t your smallest problems or a distraction from the bigger ones.
Unless you can fly, the season will do it’s best to grab you, and leave you with so many lights, singing “we wish you a merry something” with your eyes shut.
Paradoxically it is the one time of the year we really do get busy living. We stop being cerebral, existential beings, come out of our heads, and promptly lose our minds. We reconnect with friends and family, and some of us might even spend more money than we have to.
We have no time to think, unless we deliberately carve some time out. In the meantime, there are the hundred nags a day about who gets gifts, the people we should be seeing, efforts we should be making, gatherings we should be attending. Exhausting if you think of it.
Is it disappointing? This tumble from semi philosophical steadiness into gobbling commercialism and holiday spirit? I don’t think so. It alters the pace, makes us crazy in a different way, but with all the living and giving comes a change – we are confronted with life (and lives of people around us) in its spectrum of riches and uncomfortable truths, and we respond, we always do.
If we are careful, we can respond in ways which support, encourage, and build up. We might be inclined to stop sweating the small stuff, let things go, forgive.
I wonder if that is a product of the avalanche too – whilst we’re so caught up with keeping up, we are brought face to face with our own areas of downfall, our vulnerabilities, our tendency to short temper or disengagement or whatever it is we can usually avoid thinking about too deeply. That’s something to reflect upon later, though, once the festivities have been boxed up and put back in storage for another year.
And the grand point of all that self reflection?
Discovering new aspects of your own character? Strategizing how you will handle situations differently another time? Putting plans in place to avoid roadblocks you encountered the previous year? Figuring out what worked best, and how you can do more of the same? A couple things to have a jolly good think about.
life in its most primitive form forces you to live better, do better – social media has certainly made sure of that. Snapchat has made you a highlight reel and Instagram will let you know the pictures that were liked the most. I’m writing this while thoughts of actually sitting beside a bonfire and roasting hazelnuts cross my mind, a couple fond memories and hard truths; I didn’t accomplish much this year, but my biggest take from 2018 has to be that what anyone can really see is what’s behind you. Everything ahead hasn’t been written yet, a blank canvas. Nothingness at the same time endless possibilities.
Merry everything 🌹