For those of you following me on social media, you may know that my husband, Paul, was hospitalized last week; he’s doing much better and I hope to have him home later this week. It’s been a rocky time for sure. I hope to write about it when I have a bit more perspective, but for now, I thought I’d share the post that I’d been working on before Paul’s hospitalization. Hold your dear ones close, my friends.
A few weeks now into 2022 I’ve finally had a moment to catch my breath. The holidays never seem to be as relaxing as I want them to be, partly because the period from mid-November to New Year’s Day tend to be the busiest on any musician’s calendar, and partly because of the panoply of post-vaccination family obligations.
I managed to keep my New Year’s Eve and Day free, thought, which was just as well because we were exposed to Covid and lightly quarantined until we tested negative twice. So we managed to have a quiet holiday at home, just me, Paul and Pinkerton, a bottle of champagne and Anderson Cooper getting drunker by the CNN segment.
We’re taught early on to treat the turning of the year as an opportunity to turn a new leaf for ourselves, to make those ubiquitous New Years resolutions; this year I’m finally joining a gym. This year I’m finally going to begin writing that book. This year I’m finally going to lose 10 pounds/stop drinking/get my online degree/take my dog to obedience school/learn Chinese/sell my collection of gramophones (all things friends and acquaintances have mentioned over the last months)
While I love this sense of renewal – renewed efforts, renewed energy – I’m also wary that by tying it so closely to a particular time of year, it overshadows the possibility of renewal at other times.
Symbolically, New Year’s provides us all an opportunity for a collective pause, reflection, and re-setting, which in itself is wonderful. But as all of those lapsed gym memberships, misbehaved dogs and gramophones continuing to collect dust will attest, a single push to renew our lives seldom leads to lasting change. And while we tend to confine that to the beginning of the year, I would argue that we have the opportunity to start anew every moment of our lives.
The main focus of any mindfulness practice is to learn to truly inhabit the present, each moment as it unfolds into the next. And each one of those moments is a chance for renewal. I’m reminded of my experience early on in the pandemic, when the fear and uncertainty was overwhelming. Projecting into the future and seeing only the possibility for dread, for quite a few weeks I felt locked in what felt like an unchangeable reality.
Weeks in, when I was able to face my fear and to release the expectation of certainty, I was able to ground myself in the situation at hand, the present that I inhabited. And when I let go of my desire to try to control an uncontrollable reality, I was brought back to the notion that if I lived each moment as it passed, a world of possibility opened before me. Each moment was a renewal, a possibility for change, a chance to come to a new understanding, an opportunity to expand into the space around me.
And then things didn’t feel so difficult, or frightening.
I challenge myself daily to be fully aware of each moment, to welcome the every-changing present, to open myself to the notion of constant renewal and change. And life becomes that much bigger. Forget those New Years resolutions and resolve to explore the wonder of infinite renewal.