As I measure my year from Samhain to Samhain, my version of “New Years” approaches. I have often written a reflective entry in my journal around this time or during the Thanksgiving holidays. There have been seasons, however, when I have avoided doing so because it was simply too uncomfortable to honestly reflect, especially when the past was extreme.
It is no exaggeration when I say that life has been challenging this season. As my closest friends and selected family understand, I have always tried to be “…the captain…” of my fate while at the same time struggling to avoid a tendency towards melancholia. As a result this uncontrollable year has been exceptionally hard on my spirit.
Some of the challenges have been external and include the gradual and seemingly unpreventable de-volvement of a marital partnership due physiological changes; the emotional and financial strain of a treasured pet’s cancer and care; the psychologically jarring experience of shattered home-owner dreams, subsequent short-sale and moving into a lackluster rental; the long distance move of one daughter and the natural and growing emotional distance of another; the chemical dependency of a son who moved “back home”; the financial, mental and spiritual stresses of hosting said son and family in far too small a space; the steadily retreating horizon of retirement due to said finances and the career demands of an unsympathetic and misguided school district administration and board.
Some of my hardest challenges, however, have come from within: a loss of health due to age and poor choices: weight gain and sleep-apnea; an automobile accident (brought on, I feel, by poor health) that, though it did not involve serious injuries or deaths, was my fault and ended in totaled cars (my own included) and higher insurance rates; the emotional and financial strain of purchasing a new car; the gradual deterioration of ambition in areas of emotional expression—bagpiping, writing and gaming—due to above; a growing anxiety stemming from a lack of privacy resulting in a short-temper, growing unhappiness and an ebb in emotional fortitude; and a growing inability to focus on complex tasks and the discipline to see them through.
I am not trying to suggest that there have been no bright moments or positive memories made during the year because there absolutely have, but in the balance, their fire, though warm at the time of burning, has been unable to hold at bay the hounds of winter.
I suppose I want to measure my year in accomplishments as I believe accomplishing things, though they may not in and of themselves alleviate my sense of anxiety, go a long way to assuaging perceived stagnation. Indeed, it may not necessarily be a sense of accomplishment I desire so much as a sense of positive forward momentum. And though I understand momentum occurs regardless if it is felt or not, if the landmarks I lay in time’s wake are lackluster and unsatisfactory or simply the results of breathing air, is it any wonder I feel as I do under the pressure of the external and internal storms I described above?
At this point, it is the accepted tradition to make a list of resolutions and resolve to accomplish them. Alas, such a strategy has never worked for me. Under the pressures mentioned above, which have no innately predictable resolutions associated with them, I cannot resolve to do anything. Plans are unable to stand up to them.
I think it would be better if I turned what energies I have to the development of stronger personal focus and discipline. Qui Gon’s “…your focus determines your reality…” resonates strongly under present conditions. I would add to this that “…discipline creates it”. I am under no illusions that stronger focus and discipline could in any way change the reality of my dog’s cancer or my son’s addiction, but they could help change my anxiety at a perceived lack of momentum or progress. I must somehow “…navigate the river…” and cease to allow the river to navigate me. I cannot alter the river’s currents, flow or changing conditions, time is time after all, but how I navigate it, how I perceive the challenges of its rapids and snags or take on the shallows or sandbars, that might be more reasonable and in my power to effect.
Even as I write the above, it seems “…fracted and corroborate..”. I feel unsure if I’m speaking the truth or simply lying to myself—something humans all too easily do. There may only be comfort in the “…doing of the thing…” and let focus and discipline take care of themselves. I just don’t know.