29 December 2015
The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. ~ Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
I am sitting at the kitchen table in a familiar and beloved beach house. Arranged before me is a collection of Christmas cards and small meaningful gifts from the past week that have traveled here with us. They are part of the tapestry of this holiday, each a memento of people with whom I have the good fortune to share caring. I’m lingering over them, over the month’s celebration with its many most wonderful moments, its expressions of joy and kindness, its nourishing love.
This has been one of the most wonderful holiday seasons I remember because I finally dug down into the core of it and the core of me and constructed a place of joyful coexistence. I didn’t conform to a lot of the societal expectations or manage to shed all my gift-giving performance anxiety, but still, I found my place in this celebration of love. I want to remember this, to build upon this.
Years ago, I heard someone remark that an experience contains three components; the anticipation of the event, the actual experience of the event, and ultimately, the recalling, reliving of it. Each of these three parts contributes to an experience, enriching it, increasing the opportunity to saturate it with meaning and satisfaction.
This observation has stuck with me because, in applying it, I’ve found it to be true. During this end-of-a-holiday and end-of-a-year season, it feels very apt.
Often in my life, I am right onto the next thing, frequently moving on even before the present event has ended. But this time of year I feel the urge to reflect, a tug to look back over the year and consider the living contained within it.
Looking back, I discover a host of glimmering treasures that I’m relishing. There were wonderful vacations with our families and great girl trips with friends. This year I committed more deeply to honoring my interior life which has wound up bolstering other aspects of my life. And here is the year when I braided together two life-long passions, writing and the exploration of conscious, satisfied living….in a blog!
These are pretty much Facebook kind of events. The ‘good’ stuff. The other stuff, the kind that usually doesn’t get FB mention is not as much fun to relive. It takes courage to return to uncomfortable moments, but they’re worthy of reflection, too. They can hold wisdom, inspiration, understanding. Even though I don’t like revisiting times I lost it in anger or sunk into deep despair, reviewing those parts of my year both helps me appreciate my growth over the long haul and helps me shape intentions going forward.
In retrospect, I can make out the essence, the bones, of how I live life and what matters most to me. As Steve Jobs famously said, he did what seemed right to him at the time and, in hindsight, the dots of his life connected. I think this is often the case. Which makes looking back important as I feel my way forward.
Reflecting on the past allows me to see what worked and what didn’t. And what efforts I value regardless. Revisiting events adds layers and depth. And offers the longer view of seeing patterns emerge from the intricate interwoven dots of our experiences.