A year to remember Print
News - Final Word
Monday, 27 January 2014 22:27
Untitled Document

By the time you read this, chances are that your holiday elation has become a dim memory and you’re firmly stuck in the perpetual Groundhog Day of your old, familiar routine.

The alarm clock rings, you open the curtains, brush your teeth, get dressed, go to work and soon you close the curtains, brush your teeth and get undressed. Whopeeeeee. Open curtains, close curtains, open-close-open-close.

Days go by, then weeks, months and you feel as if you’re living the same year over and over until one day you look back and wonder: Where did all the time go? Yep, like that.

Mary Morrissey says that it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of thought, and also of expectation. If you’ve lived in the same neighbourhood for a long time, you keep seeing the same faces, the same shops and it becomes easy to simply stop seeing – to walk by the same doors without really being there, in the moment.

In this way most of us live one year sixty, seventy or eighty odd times, instead of living each year anew. No, stay with me here. I’ve not gone completely numb over the festive season. I’m just struggling to take up the wind-up-mouse act again. Maybe that is why we should use the start of a new calendar as a sort of springboard and truly try to create a new cycle, however trite that may sound.

You see, the ‘aliveness’ you experience on a holiday to a new destination is not the result of your locale, but rather of your outlook. You give yourself permission to slow down enough so that you can see and hear and taste and feel things as if for the first time. The trick is to bring that back into the work-year where you’re seeing everything for the umpteenth time and to keep hanging on to it, even if it is by the ankle.

Stephanie Bennet Vogt writes that our drive to attain and succeed comes at a great cost. “We yearn for simplicity but struggle to find it. We ache for balance but can't sustain it. There is no time to juggle it all, let alone clear the things and thoughts that have caused us to feel so overwhelmed in the first place.”

So, where would we find practical advice on how to stay sane and keep feeling alive; on how to stop numbing ourselves so that we can keep running on the nine-to-five treadmill? Mostly, I think we have to stay open, suspend judgement, be willing not to know, be eager not to slot everything into its prefab place based on ready-made answers.

Personally, my favourite recommendation is to rid yourself of the misplaced notion that messes must be cleaned up instantly. Yes, I know, this sounds sort of besides the point, but believe me – it’s a great step in the right direction. Albeit a sloppy one.

And while you’re going in that direction, take Stephanie’s advice and “don’t identify”. Most of the unpleasantness you’re feeling has nothing to do with the present. It comes from the past or other people. These sensations will usually pass to the degree that you don’t make them yours.

What you do have to make yours is joy. You can only live it if you get really honest with yourself about what you want. Life coach Martha Beck writes that what’s holding most people back is that they simply don’t know what they want. She says that most of her coaching conversations start out like this:
Martha: So, what do you want to experience during your life?

Client: Yeah, that’s the question, isn’t it?

Martha: Yes, and I’m asking it. What do you want?

Client: Mm, I don't know. I’ll have to think about that.

Martha: Please think about it now. What do you want in this moment?

Martha says at least she knows what she wants in these moments – to stab herself in the head with a crab fork. She says that not specifying what you want is like going into a restaurant and saying, “Bring me the food I love best!” without identifying the food.

If you want to get off the treadmill of soul-numbing routine, you have to know what you want so that you can express who you are and make a life, not just a living.

Go on, girlfriend, name your poison. Cheers! Let’s make this a year to remember.