End of Year Thoughts

I can’t believe that we’re coming to the end of another year.  This post-Christmas, pre-New Year time is a veritable cocktail of emotions as we look at what has been and think about what there could be to come.  I myself feel a mixture of pride for what I achieved, lamentations for what didn’t work out, excitement for what the new year may hold, an eagerness to proactively participate in Life, and deep gratitude for all the different experiences that were offered to me over this last year.

I don’t want this to be another peppy “release and move on, embrace the new” blog post: there are enough of those out there.  Letting go of hopes, dreams, ideas, expectations, relationships (whatever it is) isn’t easy and it certainly takes more than a New Year’s Eve to make that transition.  But, the dawning of a new year is a pertinent, symbolic time to set the intention to release or to make some time for reflection.

This year has been a time in which I found a lot of my spiritual beliefs didn’t deliver (at least in the way that I had come to believe they would).  I don’t think it is too melodramatic to say that I have had a crisis of faith and so much of what I thought was my foundation for making my way through life did not stand the test.  That loss was hard, but in that loss I have found a sense of empowerment and steadiness that I lacked before.  I am now making my tentative first steps forwards without many of the teachings I previously relied on to support me.  It is scary, but exhilarating.

“When your soul is completely broken, ultimate freedom awaits you, and there is an opportunity for true change.  For better or worse, that is your choice.” – Lati

One powerful conclusion I did come to this year was so blindingly simple I couldn’t quite believe how it hadn’t struck me before.  Out in New Zealand, standing on the edge of Lake Tekapo in the hush of the darkness, ensconced in the silence of the surrounding mountains, I cradled myself in my arms as I struggled against the yawning pit of loneliness and confusion that threatened to engulf me.  Nothing had worked out as I’d hoped and I felt despondent, a failure, miserable.  But, I went outside to look up at the night sky that is so piercingly clear and beautiful in that part of the world and was hit by a sense of awe that, in an instant, triggered a momentous turning point in my beliefs.  So, the spiritual rocks I’d built my life upon had fallen away but there I still was, awake and conscious (in every sense of the words), my eyes looking up at the dazzling beauty of a starry sky beyond words, suddenly aware of how beautiful and precious my existence is.

 

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The night sky over Lake Tekapo.  Picture belongs to Alexandra Payne.

 

All that matters is that I am alive, awake and a conscious creature able to take in and appreciate the pure majesty of our Universe, to appreciate the spectacular miracle that we exist at all, with the ability to actively contemplate and appreciate that existence.  It was then that I started to shift towards embracing Life in its totality rather than trying to pursue a narrow path of supposed spiritual enlightenment.  Whatever life I get, with its ups and downs, is a miracle and a blessing.  I want to experience every inch of it, every sensation.

I want to leave you with this quote to contemplate as I think it sums up everything perfectly:

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.  We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together and they fall apart.  They come together again and they fall apart again.  It’s just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” – Pema Chodron

Basically, Life is a confusing and beautiful mess, but we are incredibly lucky to experience any of it at all.

I hope you have a beautiful, wonderful, enlightening year ahead of you.  Embrace the imperfection, be patient with yourself, with others, and with life.  Try to move your perception beyond expectation.  Accept that you have control over your choices, whilst also accepting that you don’t have full control over Life.  Embrace the mess; dive into it.  See the beauty in the chaos.  Be open to seeing what happens.  Make time to breath clean air, to laugh.  Know that the things that feel hard won’t last forever.  Don’t judge or punish yourself for what you think should be happening, or what you feel you ought to do.  Try to make your contribution to the world one that is positive overall,  but accept that you will fuck up sometimes.  Make the most of every nanosecond of your existence, every feeling that you feel, because it is a miracle that you have eyes to see, a mind to think with, and a heart to feel.

With much love,

Alexandra XoXo