Connection, my theme for 2016
Here we are guys, we survived the holidays and we’re two weeks into the New Year already! How is it feeling for you so far? Personally I’m finding 2016 a slow starter. Usually by this time I have some clear vision for the year ahead, I’m setting some goals and putting together an action plan. But this year it seems things are happening differently.
What I am clear about though is that my theme for 2016 is CONNECTION; to cultivate deep connection through practicing SIMPLICITY and PRESENCE and by setting CLEAR BOUNDARIES. This clarity came to me after a Christmas period that definitely wasn’t that.
I usually follow a very natural seasonal pattern leading up to the end of one year and transitioning into the next. On the lead up I feel drawn into hibernation, to become quiet, internalise and reflect on the year that’s been; the growth, the challenges, the opportunities taken and those missed. Of course this can be a challenge when the world is screaming at me to be anything but quiet and solitary, and sometimes I have ignored this call in favour of the odd party, sometimes to my detriment, but I have learnt how important it is to allow myself some space and time for the transition to occur. But alas there is always more to learn!
Predictably this year was no different. I did manage to spend some time in the serenity of the Blue Mountains which was just HEAVENLY! But, in retrospect, I also managed to fill much of my time doing things I really didn’t want to do; things I did out of a sense of obligation, that I thought I “should” do to please others, things that were not in accordance with my Soul’s deepest yearning. Of course this didn’t serve me well and I found the whole Christmas thing quite a challenge, but, as always there were some great learnings to be had.
We all have our own personal association with Christmas and our own memories of this time from childhood, fond or otherwise. Some love it, some hate it. Some have religious connections to the event and some may not celebrate it at all, either through choice or an alternate religious affiliation. But one thing is for sure, living in a predominantly Christian country it is impossible to avoid. The first thing we notice are the decorations, the lights are turned on, the carols start playing and Sydney turns into some weird tacky counterfeit copy of the northern hemisphere (being from England I find this quite odd!). Then the sales begin and the frenzy of hyper-consumption ensues!
For several years now I have enjoyed Christmas less and less and I don’t feel aligned to the experience at all, but as a father I have felt obliged, not only to participate, but to create some version of Christmas that my kids will enjoy. I used to enjoy it more when they were young and in awe of the magic that this time promised. But what I really enjoyed was creating an experience for them and seeing their resulting smiles. As they have grown older and the magic has waned I have realised that I have been unconsciously trying to recreate a similar experience and force the magic to happen. This year I really noticed how futile this is and I was left disappointed, drained and frustrated. This led me to ask myself “Why do I do this?”, “What is the experience I am trying to create?” and “How could I do my own version of Christmas that fits right for me?”
I’m sure if I asked a thousand people what they love about Christmas, after they mentioned any religious association, the gifts and the Christmas ham, the most common answer would be family togetherness, and I get that, I want that too. But I feel what we’re really seeking goes way deeper than that; I believe we are drawn to an experience of CONNECTION; Connection to our loved ones, connection to our tribe, connection to something greater than us, and most of all, connection to the deepest part of our self, what I call our Soul.
I’m sure this isn’t a great revelation for many of you who, like me, have been aware and motivated by this drive to connect at depth. But there is always deeper to go, and it is often these times of cultural significance, holidays, anniversaries, birthdays etc, when we are surely reminded of any part of us that is lacking that sense of connection.
For me this realisation hit me like a mac truck when, after being tired of feeling disappointed by my Christmas experience, tired of wining about my teenage kids not appreciating the effort my partner and I made to create some magical Christmas experience, I did what I know will always give me some clarity and a new perspective on my life and my internal bullshit; I went for a bush walk.
I took myself off, found a suitable track and began my grumpy stomp through the forest. I know that when I am experiencing some pent up emotions I need to let them move, to free them up and give them room to run through my body, and strong vigorous exercise is perfect for this, the more sweat and dirt the better!
After a good 5 km or so I turned a corner and was drawn to look up. All of a sudden I was punched square in the heart and floored to my knees! I was overcome by the sheer beauty that surrounded me. The colours were so vivid, the air smelt sweet, the wind kissed my cheek, my heart cracked open and tears then flowed. I got it! This is the connection I seek, I always seek. Not some-thing, some-one or some experience, just this; the pure, simple, natural beauty of the world, of my Soul and the infinite source of Love that I already am, and Mother Nature, as always, was my perfect mirror of this knowledge, as we are one and the same.
I realised then that my frustration was from my own disconnection from my own truth. I had been trying to manufacture an experience, someone else’s version of Christmas which was not in alignment with my Soul’s deepest truth. From there I had projected my expectations on to the fake experience and on to my kids, which of course were not fulfilled, thus causing disappointment. Ah the Freedom!
In conclusion, my big lesson here, which I hope you can also gain from, brought me to my theme of CONNECTION, with SIMPLICITY, PRESENCE and BOUNDARIES being the pathway there. When I am feeling something isn’t right for me that’s because it isn’t. To be aware of that feeling I need to be present. To be present I need to keep things simple and un-complicated. And it is crucial to always honour and value my Soul’s deepest truth and create boundaries, even when to do so may upset others.
The best thing is that this connection is always already there, it never goes away, but sometimes we just need to remember to access it. For me being in nature really helps, for you it may be dancing, painting, or meditation, what’s important is that we create ways to connect every day, even if just for a moment.