Don’t Burn Out
One night last week, as outdoor temperatures dipped below freezing and a five o’clock sunset made it feel like midnight, my Christmas lights clicked on by a timer bathing my living room in joyous light. My grey cat, Tucker, paused mid-stretch to notice the change, then carried on toward the door, asking to be let out. When I opened the door and he registered the cold, he paused again, then made a beeline for the couch. I decided to follow suit, skip my dance class and be a sofa spud. Winter is here: time to pull in and hibernate.
Across town, my Jewish friends stand in front of their menorah and light Hanukkah candles, left to right. I can imagine the first flash of the matchstick on their faces.
For me the holidays are always a season of strong emotional contrast: joy and melancholy, buoyant and bored, light-hearted, then heavy-hearted, connected then lonely, happy to socialize then yearning for solitude. I observe the same tendency in my friends and clients and take comfort in our shared humanity. If you are feeling this way too, take heart. You are not alone. ‘Tis the season when we most notice our losses: loved ones missing from the table, reliable routines upset by change. Ambiguity and doubts can intensify in darkness.
As the shortest day of the year draws near, it begs the question: how will you tend to your inner light, the tree and temple that is you? No one else can do this for us. We all have our tried and true ways of protecting our vital energies so we don’t burn out. For me that will include making time each day to be sit quiet without an agenda, getting lost in a novel, lighting candles at dinnertime, and being thoughtful about what I say “yes” to. Like Tucker, I will employ the sacred pause before I walk out my door, and give myself permission to chill out, guilt free, as often as I can.
“Each life is clothed in a raiment of spirit that secretly links it to everything else. Though suffering and chaos befall us all, they can never quench that inner light of providence.” – John O’Donahue
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