Where to begin reflecting on this year? We’ve been everywhere from the beaches of Kerala to the heights of the Himalaya to the jungles of Peru…and now we’re living in the jungle of everyday reality, trying to integrate the lessons we’ve learned in our daily actions and lives. We’ve seen how the power of love can be both beautiful and frightening. We’ve been tested and thrown into the fires, and I’d like to think we’ve become stronger as a result. We’ve learned how to take refuge in the support of each other.
In terms of the sheer amount of experience crammed in to one calendar year, it will be tough to beat 2012! I keep saying that it feels like we’ve lived entire lifetimes….
For me, if I ask myself what are the lessons I personally learned this year, the first thing that comes to mind is “trust and surrender.” I think back to the difficult time with Giulia and remember how I had a deep and serene faith in the workings of the universe (though maybe I was just high on Amma?). Then again in Nepal, as I actively participated in the unfolding and going with it as best I could. And then with the shamans in Peru- the insights only came when I let go of things and invited the spirits to teach me.
From this perspective, I could indeed say that this has been a big lesson. But if I examine other aspects of my life- especially in my current state- to what extent can I say I’ve truly learned this lesson? I’m still feeling very anxious about a number of things. I feel lost and, to some extent, abandoned when it comes to my book. I have moments where that trust re-asserts itself, but it seems a long way from being a fixed point on which I can stand.
As my life goes on, everything seems to be getting more ambiguous. These last few days, as soon as I’ve written one conclusion, its opposite has come into my head. I feel in some moments that I can’t stand the fact that I can’t stop reflecting on everything, and in others that it’s the most valuable and beautiful thing in the universe.
I suppose, then, that this year is not so much about lessons learned but about lessons being learned. But all years are really like that! To what extent can we really say we’ve learned anything? Circling around the same points over and over again, telling yourself that it’s not the same point, but some place higher up on the spiral… but still feeling as though it’s square one. Knowing that no lesson is actually learned once and for all, but that every moment and situation is a test for us not just to talk about our understanding, but to live it out as well.
I guess Rumi was really right when he told us to look at the moon to learn how to give birth to oneself gradually and with deliberation. It really is a slow process. Perhaps the most important thing in that birth is consistency and application- that a new self will not just emerge because we can conceive of it in our mind. We must nurture and embody it with ritual, practice, and discipline.
Perhaps that is something I learned in a negative way this year: that ritual and community are so vitally important. I’ve learned it mainly through experiencing and feeling their lack. When I don’t take the time in the morning to carve out that little sacred space, I feel it. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and tied up with life’s affairs, but the more activities I involve myself in, the more I realize how vital it is to impose Sabbath-like times. Perhaps that is the most important resolution I can carry over into the new year.