One year ago today, I shared a reflection titled ‘Fear in the face of a pandemic’, not knowing what would happen in the world, or in my world.
The reflection was not to highlight the possible fears associated with a health pandemic. It was to bring attention to the fears associated with change. I clearly sensed that mass change was upon us and that getting ready for it might be helpful.
One line that I continue to reference repeatedly has been, “once we let go of what was, then only can we make space for what might be”. Letting go can be difficult, however it was made less difficult in the past year as it was forced upon us. The difficult part has become how to respond in the face of change.
In the past few weeks, while interviewing job candidates for my business, connecting with old friends or exploring the world of online dating, one question I continue to find myself curious about is this: what have you learned about yourself in the past year?
In the past year, I have uncovered surprising and unexpected discoveries about myself. The world had to turn upside down first for me to turn my mind upside down and begin to look at my life differently than I may have before.
One year ago, I was happily living in the concrete jungle of New York City. It was a place that I felt comfortable in, as everything about it was familiar to me. The streets, the lights, the subway, the smells, the sounds and more. However, now thinking of it feels like a foreign world, one that I am unable to easily connect with.
I have found a new home and that is to be with nature. Over the past year, I believe that I spent more with nature than the previous decade combined. The grounding, joy and familiarity that I feel while walking alongside a river, watching a sunset or hiking in the woods is uplifting for my spirit. I feel calm and clear. I feel at home.
I have become a writer, with over 50,000 words published in my weekly reflections for the past 52 weeks. My interest in writing has been slowly built over the years, however up until one year ago, I had made excuses for not doing it. I focused more on the reasons not to write than the reasons to write.
When you start something, you never really know where it will take you. That’s the benefit of when I choose to be open. I get to discover something new, about myself, including how little I know about myself.
My identity has evolved. There are many words that I identify with today that I did not as strongly with one year ago. Writer. Meditation teacher. Business owner. Nature seeker. Canadian. Son. And recently, uncle.
Despite most of these being true for a long time, I did not necessarily identify with them on a daily basis and they were not reflected in my choices and lifestyle. They now all are. And some will disappear and new ones will appear in the year ahead, I am ready.
I have learned how to be more effective and efficient with my time. The number, frequency and duration of meetings has been greatly reduced. The power of a five minute adhoc phone call has been found again, as I know that everyone is available and accessible.
With fewer physical distractions and movements, how I flow through my day has shown me that less can be more. I have cut out a lot of the noise and have learned how to focus better on what matters most to me. The practice of less is more has enabled more space for me to explore new passions and interests, which I feel grateful for.
Resilience is a mindset. It is a choice in the face of change. I can choose to respond with rigidity or resiliency. To be rigid is to be fixed in my views, stuck in my ways and cling to what I have known. To be resilient is to be curious about possibilities, open to new ideas and wonder what might be.
In the face of unfulfilled desires, be it business objectives or romantic interests, to show up with resiliency is to say “not yet” instead of “no”, “not likely” or “never”. I chose resilience over rigidity more in the past year than probably the past decade, as it feels better to be in flow with reality than to try to force upon reality some idea that I have.
In the past year, we experienced the truth that big accidents do happen. Things that are not planned, expected or desired. No one asked for the pandemic and all of its side effects that will linger for years to come. However it is here and we have been in it.
Most things are either accidental or intentional at the start. The question is not why or how it came to be, but what I will now do about it. In the face of what might be accidental, there is a bridge that I can cross. That bridge is the choice to be intentional with how I show up, what I focus on and ultimately, how I feel.
What I have learned in the past year about myself is that when I let go of what once was, I not only make the space for what might be but also make the choice to be intentional about just what might be possible.