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Holiday Reflections

I had an OWLcourage post prepared and shelved it for now. It seemed wise to take a moment to honor this time of year. Holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and others I know less well, and a shared ushering in of a New Year call for a reflective pause. We all do this annually, yet some annual pauses seem unique. This one feels that way to me.

We are one year away from discovering that emerging from our Covid Caves was a singular and poorly understood transition, indeed may yet be undone. We have engaged in a good deal of searching about for normal, failing to find it in most cases. We have acknowledged problems that predate Covid but can no longer be easily ignored. We have also sensed the emergence of alternatives, most quite filmy and uncertain, even confusing. We have now done this long enough to know our world isn’t likely to magically revert to a familiar past of 2018 or 2006 or 1993…or any other arbitrary year we would like to recreate.

For that reason, welcoming 2023 seems like an event that warrants attention. What are we welcoming and what hopes and possibilities lurk, both conscious and unconscious? I am less inclined to focus on resolutions this year, the tradition of sorts, and instead focus on what I am describing to myself as “intentional experiences”. Surrounded by the detritus of the deconstructions of our times, we are engaged in creating our future possibilities, where our focused intent counts a great deal. Goals (and resolutions) seem naïve or self-deceptive; “intentional experiences” I can embrace.

So here are some potential “intentional experiences” I put forward and share as curious examples at this reflective time:

  • Stay alert to all the good you encounter. Find ways to absorb, admire, acknowledge and reward this good. Cheer for it!

  • Identify someone who has an idea that seems foreign or bizarre to you. Ask them to explain it to you. Say nothing; just listen. Ask open hearted questions solely for clarification. Say nothing; just listen. Smile.

  • Watch for light. When you find it, invest all your available personal energy in this light, with focus and generosity. Consciously fuse the best of your personal life energy with this light. Be part of this light.

  • Create something. It doesn’t really matter what you create so much as your willingness to create something rather than confine yourself to what already exists. Once you create something, admire it a bit, even if it isn’t all that great. Practice celebrating creation for a few days just to notice that this is different from engaging with that which already exists. Wonder about that for a while.

  • Find one person you have never been able to verbally affirm, and say something clearly affirming, you know, something simple like “Nice sweater!” If you find yourself awash in courage, up your message to something more personally affirming like “That’s a good point; thanks for sharing!” Then relax and work on meaning it. See what you feel like when you do this.

  • Find a magic moment of nature and simply experience it: a talkative bird, snow drifting, trees in the wind, a sudden sunrise, blossoming orchids, a curious cloud formation…options abound. Pay attention! Thank it for the joy it creates.

  • Find a space where you can imagine an act of forgiveness toward some other human where that forgiveness is a big challenge. When it feels possible, think forgiving thoughts for as long as you can without scripting out a rationalization for why you cannot and will not forgive. Notice this process as part of your life story.

  • Conduct a serious laughter inventory. If you are not laughing at least once a day, find a practice to improve your laughter frequency patterns (As a possible clue, try George Carlin on YouTube…a no-fail solution!). I sometimes think daily laughter has a greater potential impact than daily meditation, though I support both.

This is not an exhaustive list, simply a set of sample “intentional experiences” I share in a spirit of hope and possibility, in the conviction that we are in a shifting time where we can individually and collectively make a difference, bring into our shared universe evolved options. I am convinced that the deconstructions of our time are a gift. They offer us the opportunity to imagine alternatives and make them our new realities.

I watch, listen to, study the messages of the emerging generations, millennials and Gen Z. People miss their message while obsessing over their digital and social media life style. They have no intention of supporting the dying or disintegrating social structures and mores of the past. So this is my last “intentional experience” to share.

Find a person who identifies as either a millennial or a Gen Z. They usually don’t enjoy the labels but do know their birth year. Invest in them. Ask them honest questions and let them teach you what is important to them. Listen. Affirm and support them in any way you can. They will create the new possible. Where you can be part of the creation, sign on as a support person in some role. Help make their vision happen.

I think I just wrote my version of a Christmas Wish and a New Year’s Celebration. I hope each of you who read this have joyous holidays and a fulfilling and self-actualizing New Year! And, because today is that magnificent day, I wish you a peaceful Winter Solstice.

“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.”

- T. S. Eliot -

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