This year is winding down. Looking over my shoulder at the tumultuous path, I can’t believe we made it this far. So much has happened in our little world that has forced us to focus on things closer to home and on the people who matter the most. Left struggling with what it takes to get along in a world that is no longer as welcoming or friendly as we imagined it to be, we have misstepped and stumbled a few times. But we never fell, we always managed to right ourselves and keep plugging gamely forward.
At the end of one year and the beginning of another most of us take time to assess where we have been and where we think we would like to go. Plans are drawn up and goals are set. Optimism rises as we set what is done aside and look out towards the unknown where all things are possible.
Studying on the plans from this time last year, I find I am holding a shredded collection of hopes and dreams. Nothing could have prepared any of us for what this past year delivered. I am hesitant to pull out a planner and set goals for the new year. Life is fragile. We are not in control. Basically, we are along for the ride and no matter how hard we try to steer, there are forces greater than ourselves that ultimately direct our path. What makes or breaks a year is how we handle what we could not know was headed for us.
The Neanderthal lived through tumultuous times, their world often dominated by a harsh climate and the constant struggle to survive in a world that was not nearly as friendly as the one we inhabit. The climate affected their food supplies and forced them to learn to adapt. The ability to adapt to changing environments has become less of a thing for us, but no less important for a successful outcome. The ability to let go of one’s expectations and embrace reality enhances one’s ability to survive. The ability to use reality to sharpen one’s skill set will allow one to thrive.
This past year has been a challenging one. As the months passed, and I stopped fighting against the changes that arose things began to settle. I have learned that the only thing I can see clearly is what is right in front of me. Accepting that all I really have is the moment in which I exist, has been liberating. Trying to look beyond this moment leaves me feeling overwhelmed and distraught. Trying to hang onto what has passed leaves me exhausted and saddened. Taking a deep breath and embracing the moment I am in is the only safe space left for me. In this moment I am free to just be. I am free to make it the best possible moment I can. I can share my moments, I can lift up or tear down, I can laugh or I can cry. I can share a burden or try and haul it all on my own weary shoulders. I can reach out or push away. One thing will lead to another and what I do will define me.
Wherever this year takes us, it is important that we keep our heads up and our focus on what we can see clearly. We cannot delve into the unknown with any certainty and no matter what we think we know, tomorrow will always be unknowable. Each day will offer us plenty of challenges and grace us with opportunities to shine or to dismay.