For many, the holiday season is a time busy with family gatherings, shopping and gift-giving, and a great deal of stress. But for me, the end of the year is a contemplative time. With the shorter daylight hours, I naturally tend to slow down. It feels much more comfortable to be reflecting on the past year than frantically racing to finish holiday shopping, and worrying about cooking and cleaning and other preparations. I take slowing down further than most, and head off to a week-long silent meditation retreat every December.
It's been a while since I wrote in my blog, but it's not for lack of ideas. To the contrary, many things have come to mind, and I have wanted to write a great deal. I have bought myself some new toys, and have noticed the mental obsessions that come with planning and making purchases. I took a trip to visit family for Thanksgiving, and could write volumes about the insights and challenges I found there. I took another trip to Vancouver to participate in a study of advanced meditation practitioners that had me meditating in an fMRI while researchers observed my brain activity--one of the coolest things I've ever done. And there have been countless events in the world that have sparked ideas for writing and commentary: the presidential election, the arguments on Capitol Hill over the so-called fiscal cliff, the shooting in NewTown, CT . . . and there are even more small, daily happenings that can spark great insights when one pays attention to the way that the mind reacts to these happenings.
I've also had other ideas for creative endeavors that I'd like to pursue. I want to write more music, and perform it for an audience. Or perhaps record it. Maybe set it to a slide show. I've thought about writing in a more organized way, maybe in the form of an e-book, sparked by the increasing divisiveness I see in the human world around us. Time and time again I see how people get stuck in black-and-white thinking. Almost every time, I see a better way--another perspective that rises above the arguments and conflict. I'm feeling drawn to showing this to the world, but the form has not yet become clear. Through writing in my blog? Would poetry and music be more effective? Do people need to see it in person, a kind of participatory performance/teaching/discussion? I'm not sure. I welcome your thoughts on the subject. What would you like to see? What would you find most helpful? What can I do to make your world a better place?
All of these ideas have been rolling around in my head, and I'm anxious to see them come to fruition. But at this time of year, I'm feeling a bit tired, and I know that it's not the time for me to start new projects. I recognize that now is the time to set the thoughts aside for a while, pay attention to the feelings and motivations behind the thoughts, and allow the ideas to gel and take shape--or to dissipate back into the emptiness from which they came. This is the wonderful contemplative time. Next year, as the days start to lengthen and my energy and motivation return, then I can begin to turn ideas into something visible (or audible, or tangible . . .)
For now, I wish you all Happy Holidays. I hope that each of you finds some time this season for contemplation and wonder.