The Holiday Stretch
Are you in limbo? Are you waiting for that darkest day, so that you can reach for the next day, the next year, more light, and new possibilities? Maybe, you are too stressed because of holiday preparations to notice the days are getting shorter. After all, putting lights up is an antidote to darkness.
Birth and Death
The poet David Whyte said in a recent gathering, “We’re stretched between our first breath and our last one. When you take that first painful breath, everyone around you laughs; when you take your last one, everyone around you cries.”
We’re somewhere between that first breath and the last one. We’re propelled forward by the tension that exists between growing up and growing old. Each breath is an expression of that tension. The inhalation pushes the lung walls and diaphragm; the exhalation lets everything relax. We can’t stay in the state of relaxation or we won’t get enough oxygen and we’ll die. We need tension to live.
Living is Tension
It’s difficult to ignore the patterns of the seasons. It’s difficult to ignore major holidays unless you retreat to a place where media doesn’t reach you, where you don’t have to go shopping for your daily needs. If you decide to forget the whole hoopla of holiday celebrations while living in a western society, you will feel different because of what you’re not doing and what others are doing. Tension, again.
Let’s not even talk about the tension that results from participating in the holiday, traveling to see family, hosting family, holiday parties, holiday relationships, holiday gifts. you just filled up the time of year that calls for less, because nature rests in the northern hemisphere, with more, a lot more! It can be a tense time.
Keeping it Simple
I’ve been simplifying my life. Less stuff, a smaller home, fewer responsibilities. I opened up the one box with Christmas stuff I moved to this new, simpler life, and it’s like opening a box of Pandora. As the items go through my fingers, I recall memories of Christmas past. I pause and test the little lights and before I know it, I’m decorating. A few lights here, a few glittering balls there. Oh, where did I put the extensions cords, the timer for the lights? I filled 3 days with creating a small holiday world. I shopped for ingredients to do some holiday baking; I’m inviting a few people to help bridge the longest, darkest night of the year. The deep rest of winter just got busy.
Why can’t we rest? Why can't we hang in the deepest part of the out-breath? What is that need to fill up our time, light up the dark corners, fill our mouths and minds with delectables? Why do we create stress?
Nature knows how to rest. The tree sap stops rising, the seeds fall and dry out, colors fade, animals burrow, sleep more and use their body fat for survival.
I walked a long walk in the short winter hours of sunshine. I looked at the trees, standing quietly. They wait for the temperature to change, when the sap will rise and the busy-ness of growth, making new leaves or needles starts again. I want to learn from the trees. It will serve me. I will use the shortest days to be still, sleep more, walk less and eat less. I will leave the holiday exercise challenges I’ve signed up for behind, leave my worries that I’ll become out of shape on my cushion, let my body become slower, stiffer. For a while. I know that as the days lengthen, my energy will rise again, and I will resume the task of growing food, traveling to loved ones, and doing another season.
Stretched between Points
I’m somewhere between my first breath and my last. I’m somewhere between these two points in a cycle that I call my life. I’m stretched between points that are connected with thousands of breaths, millions of moments, rising and falling, balancing between the high and the low points, connecting the points at each end with a beautiful wave.
Life is an amazing process. I want to take time to be and sit in awe. I put the half empty Christmas box in the spare room. The handmade and wooden ornaments won’t hang on a tree this season. A few lights, a few glittering balls on the Chamisa bushes outside will do. The golden balls sparkle against the blond, dried-up flowers on the bush in the daylight. The yellow lights give the bush an outline in the dark of the night. I’m at peace with this simplicity. I hope you’ll find your balance point, somewhere between the highs and lows, and rest awhile.
Comments are always welcome!