We are almost at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. You may be one of many people who take this “in-between” time – whether at the Winter Solstice or the calendar New Year – to pause and reflect on the past year and to begin to look forward into the new.
This always makes me think of the pause of many in-betweens in shamanic life: the gaps between one breath and the next, between one day and the next, one project and the next. A reflection of that is in the shadowy gap between a stone and the ground upon which it sits, a state of neither rock nor ground, but what lies in between.
Being able to release enables being able to receive; letting go of the old provides space for the new. And the gap between release and receive is very like the end of one breath and the beginning of another. The way that we move through that gap is just as important as any other part of change and opportunity.
The way that we end things is as important as the way we begin them. It can easily be said that 2020 was a difficult year. The overshadowing blanket of the pandemic has been hard on people worldwide, as well as in your region, your town, and in your home. There was a lot of loss, certainly. No doubt about it. We will look back on this past year with a sense of sadness, dread, and relief. But we are not quite there, yet.
The past year has required a great deal of patience, persistence, and resilience. The flex of your response is what has brought you through. It is time to celebrate that resilience, in particular because you have been forced through many unexpected challenges and probable life-long changes have occurred. And here you are, now pivoting forward with the hope and strength that resilience gifted you.
What have you learned about yourself this year?
The year might be divided into what was before the pandemic and what came after the first shock of the realization that something potentially devastating had suddenly dropped into your life. Something that had the potential to change it irrevocably. For many, it took weeks or even months to recognize what that meant to the arc of your life. Yet, at some point, it dawned on you that your life would never be the same – that you would never be able to return to life as you knew it. And something would have to give.
Have you taken time to reflect on that shift and how you navigated it? The isolation that the pandemic forced upon us affected everyone differently, of course. Still, you had your own way of adjusting to the waves of emotion that washed through your experience of life and living. How did that go for you? How did you adjust to the grief of the loss of your old life and perhaps even the loss of friends, family, and colleagues? That takes a toll. How did it change you?
Where are you stronger? What have you released of your old life to make way for the new? In many ways, resilience is about how you let go of beliefs, ideas, attachments, stories that are no longer true, and how you are clearing the way for a new way of being in the world.
Who do you aspire to be in the coming year?
As you take some time to look forward into the coming year, take stock of a question you may have asked yourself before: Who do I want to be? Who do I CHOOSE to be as the pandemic eventually wanes. What does your new future look like? More importantly, who are you going to be in that new future?
Rather than focusing on what you want to be doing or behaving, instead consider how you want to feel in this new year, this next opening into your future. Do your best to let go of any expectations of how this new feeling might come around. In other words, envision 2021 the way your heart wants to lead you.
This year, rather than setting goals and resolutions that are rooted in your intellectual, rational way of planning, invite your heart to fearlessly guide you into imagining an intentional new you in 2021. When you can imagine and hold the feeling of this new you, your rational, planning mind can help you create it.
Remember though that the key is the feeling, not the specific outcome. Focus on how you want to feel, not how you think you will get there. It’s not the new car, or a new job, or new place to live. Once you give up on your expectations of what the future might look like according to your old pre-pandemic way of thinking, you open a broad panorama for inspiration to work within.
Now is a good time to envision the new post-COVID you, remembering the advice of Joseph Campbell. “Follow your bliss. And do not be afraid.”