Saturday, January 13, 2018

Rest and Re-creation

"Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way."
~ David Whyte, Consolations

It's been a long three weeks.  Coughing fits that left me exhausted, a tissue box a day head cold, aches, fitful sleeping.  Not the way I'd hoped to spend the holidays.  Not what I wanted, but perhaps, exactly what I needed.

Time to nap, to catch up on taped TV shows and movies, to listen to some favorite music, to read (and reread Consolations) without the usual demands and commitments that the holidays can present.  More important, time to reflect on the past year, a particularly difficult year at that, and to consider possibilities for the coming one, as I have done for the past 34 years.

In the past, I would sit down with pen in hand over a couple days and create an elaborate list of goals, with a detailed action plan of tasks and deadlines and resources.  Elaborate, detailed and even if not totally achieved, enough to keep me focused and feeling somewhat responsible and successful.  In retrospect, however, many of these goals were what I thought I should pursue, what my company or family or obligations required.  What the goal setting books advised.  What I advised others to do.  Responsible and successful, but also too often driven and stressful.  Regretting what I didn't get done as much as taking satisfaction in what I did.

This year, partly due to the debilitating nature of my cold, partly because of my reflections on the past year's challenges and stressors, and partly due to the uncertainty of John's prognosis, I decided to just let go and see what emerged more naturally.  To not be "held hostage" by external goals, by "shoulds" and "ought to's" over which I have little control anyway.  Rather, to commit to broad objectives that felt right for me as well as for the people I love and for my community.  Simple objectives - like spend quality time every day with John, take care of my health at a level equal to the demands of our lives, create something and learn something every day if possible, enjoy - really enjoy - our home and friends, listen to good music, read good literature, commit some time to an organization whose mission I believe in.  And equally important, to remember to rest at a level commensurate with these commitments. Objectives, not goals.  Commitments, not resolutions.  Direction, not destination.

For, whatever 2018 may hold, I aim to deal with it with grace and equanimity, to be content and satisfied with my choices, and to arrive next January with a grateful heart and a healthy body.  

And to all reading this, my best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.