I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Promising to do more or less of something for an entire year feels like daring fate somehow. Those earnest stroke of midnight declarations rarely seem to manifest into authentic, enduring action on my part anyway. Forgotten by February.
Instead, each January I give myself a month or so to come up for a word for the year ahead. My word for 2021 is connection. This pandemic and other global events have brought home for me the extent to which connection, in its multiplicity of forms, is necessary for survival. Connection with self. Connection with other beings and aspects of living. We connect through our senses, particularly through touch, and via language, movement, ideas, music, art and story. Connection is so important that it can bridge the vastness of space and time. Human beings are wired to connect.
This past month has been particularly disconnecting: globally, locally and personally. I vacillate between a pit of uncertainty about the coming months, and earnest hope that life on this planet will return to some kind of normalcy by the summer. Celebrating the speed of scientific advancements while thrumming with restless impatience with the implementation process. Moved to tears by simple acts of kindness one minute, vehemently disgusted by senseless violence in the news the next. Grateful for the work I do, but spent by the end of the day. I feel quite alone riding the waves of my emotions, despite knowing that others feel similarly. And underneath it all, a crushing sadness about the losses that humanity is coping with. Too many souls departing the earth even as we shelter in place in relative comfort and prosperity here in Ontario.
Technology facilitates connection to the extent that it allows me to “see” clients and colleagues and to meet up with family and friends near and far. But I cannot hug my grown up children over Zoom. Human interactions feel muted and disjointed. We all grow tired of connecting across devices, of conversations and media reports centred around rising infection numbers and the impacts of new restrictions.
I miss simple pleasures and freedoms of living that I took for granted. People watching at a coffee shop. Dancing at a wedding. Hanging out with happy people in real time. In quieter moments meditating or walking outside, I realize that I am more easily pulled off my centre these days, At risk of falling prey to negative thoughts and darker imaginings.
Where I most need to stay connected to navigate the storms ahead is to that place deep within myself. The most powerful tool in my mental health toolbox (when wielded from a place of love and awareness) is quite simply, my imagination. When my soul longs to dance and explore the world and be closer to those I love, I can tune in and picture the places we have been and the good times we have had together. I can imagine positive experiences yet to come, and in so doing influence both the biochemistry and the inner landscape of my mind. Imagining is not about escaping the current reality, but about putting it into context and making it more bearable.
From the perspective of soul, the quietness of this time is a rare opportunity to unplug from automatic patterns of living. To connect more deeply to passion and purpose, plant seeds for future, fuller connections with life, and cultivate a healthy imagination.
What are you looking forward to in 2021? What does your soul long for?