There is a noticeable lack of Christmas spirit in my family this year. It’s been a long year as my dad battled cancer and passed away on the first of December. The anticipation of Christmas coming has been replaced with a feeling of; “Is it over yet?” I don’t think it’s Christmas per se’ but we’re anticipating the end of 2017 and 2018 to begin.
Anticipation can be a dangerous state of mind, emotion, and spirit. For all we know, 2018 will be as rough, perhaps more so, than 2017. It’s not a pleasant thought but it is a possibility. This is why wisdom teachers discourage anticipation. Life rarely lives up to what we think, or wish would happen. It’s almost always different and this can be good or bad, negative or positive. When life fails to fill our desires suffering, pain, confusion can occur.
So, my family and many others wait in this no man’s land hoping Christmas will not be too difficult and 2018 will be a better, certainly different, year.
Standing Still –
Tonight was the first class of our winter semester for incarcerated fathers. When I arrived at the corrections facility I was busy getting my things together before opening the truck door because a cold front has moved into the area and for the first time in a while it feels like winter. I shut the front truck driver’s door, turned around and saw a deer about 30 feet away staring at me. Then I saw another and another. Three deer standing, looking at me as I looked at them. I didn’t want to disturb the moment. I kept expecting them to run away but they stood their ground and me, cold and shivering didn’t want to do anything to spook them. Finally, after what seemed like several minutes I knew I needed to get inside and prepare for class. I moved slowly and the deer watched as I opened the back truck door, took out my supplies, and shut it. I began walking toward the entrance, turned around and they were gone.
It was a perfect moment which happened all by happenstance; the deer and me, right time, place and spirit of awe. I hope 2017 brings more of these because my soul desperately needs them.
A Little Quieter –
Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a bed in our living room. When Beth and I are sitting watching the television or messing with tablets or the laptop most of the time he is the room with us. We haven’t always had a bed for him here but after we had to put Belle, our Golden Retriever, down we knew he would need some extra attention. Everything has worked out fine until the last couple of months. For some reason, he has become extra sensitive to noises coming from the TV. Explosions, gunfire, yelling or loud music in a movie rattles him and he begins to get up and wander around the living room. We’ve tried turning down the sound on the television as much as we can and this helps. We’ll also watch a documentary where there is mostly talking and this works. However, any type of movie or show with startling noises and/or blaring musical score and he gets up and we tell him to get back on his bed and this scenario is repeated until finally one of us takes him into the kitchen.
I was thinking about him today, this behavior which has developed, and decided maybe he’s not the one with the issues. When I think of 2016, the year which has passed, I think of noise. Most of it came as a result of the political season and the candidates, the talking heads on television and radio, the choosing of sides by almost everyone and a cacophony of opinions, predictions, debates between candidates and their followers, accusations, lies and boisterous babel that still hasn’t stopped.
I’ve decided, like our dog Trooper, I want a quieter 2017. Please…and world peace would also be acceptable.
The End –
Today is the end of 2016. Fittingly it is a rainy, messy, lazy, stay inside type of day. 2016 has seemed to be filled with more bad than good, negative than positive, a seismic movement towards evil leaving good behind. Even as I write the last sentence images of natural disaster, murders, political theater in the absurd, and the death of people everyone knew and those who impacted lives on a less grand scale but no less important to the ones who still mourn their loss.
Also, as I blog this post it is my understanding that not everyone sees 2016 the same way. Some people had a worse year than what I’m describing and others a wonderful year full of blessings, answers to prayer and enjoyment.
My feeling of the year which has passed is a general feeling of woe for our country and world. Myopically 2016 wasn’t a bad year. Personally, I am still blessed with the most wonderful wife a man could be married to, a job that has seen a lot of changes but an enormous amount of good done for others, a house far from perfect but feels more like home each day, and cast of good people I consider my family and friends.
I continue to pray, hope and seek help for my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. For the first time, I feel my meds, therapy, and personal recovery are headed in the right direction. The diseases I fight are not and will never be easy but having people who care enough to keep fighting with you makes the battles less scary and victory more likely.
So, here’s to 2016, may it rest in peace. 2017? Here’s hoping you’re better than I’m expecting.
Getting Rid of the Clutter –
My workshop has gotten out of control lately. Because of outdoor projects, it’s mostly been used to house tools, scraps and other materials needed for whatever I’ve been working on outside. So, today I spent the afternoon cleaning it up and out. There was a lot of stuff which needed to be thrown away, some went to the burn pile, other to the local junk yard. I picked up tools and put them back in their place, wood went to the wood bin, lawn care to their place and replaced a table in the middle of the workshop with a long shelve on the side. This created a lot more space to work. I’m tired but it was a which needed to be done and one which will benefit me in the long run.
Wisdom tells us a decluttered life is also necessary to possess peace of life and spirit. When there are too many things occupying space in our minds, emotions, lives we seem to always be in a rush, stepping over, shuffling around, putting things where they don’t belong and not paying attention to a life filling up with many useless trinkets. Wisdom also reveals that the more things in our life the less time we have for those things. Our attention, love, relationships all suffer when our lives are cluttered.
Perhaps the New Year might be a good time to discover what is and what isn’t important. Accept the truth we only have so much energy, time and passion to whatever is in our lives and do some decluttering of own.