I confess to a liking for ritual. I have come to see that ritual actions – celebratory or sorrowful; public or private – help me to solemnize significant moments, such as beginnings or endings, as well as longer transitions.
I have designed and enacted personal rituals for my own special moments – taking possession of a new home, or, leaving a beloved place, as two examples. Such rituals honor and externalize my own reactions – gratitude, sadness, anxiety, delight. And, in doing so, I allow myself to hold them and then release them.
I am reminded of ritualistic actions as I contemplate the ending of 2012 and the start of the New Year. I will not be with the throngs of revelers in Times Square, or attending a party. I will be cooking a meal for my partner and me to share, and reveling in our time together. I hope that this simple act becomes a ritualistic one.
I also want to take a page from my friend, Gio’s, book. His birthday ritual poses two questions:
- What have I learned about myself this year?
- What do I hope for the next one?
As I ponder 2012, I am struck by several realizations:
- I am not my job. That may be a “duh” for many. But, having been thanked and shown the door at mid-year (a first in my 31 years of working), this was an eye-opener for me. And a happy one at that.
- I don’t need to understand in order to accept, or forgive. This took some time to make itself at home in my heart. The struggle lasted for months, and required a small village to carry me through. A recent line from Andrew Solomon in the NY Times echoes my newfound perspective: “Those who make comprehension the precondition of acceptance destine themselves to unremitting misery.”
- Certain truths arise in time. Yes, in some cases, it comes at us quickly, like a fierce summer storm. But, this summer, the months of respite from the 9-5 routine allowed realizations to surface that may not have appeared until much later, if at all. Which leads up to my last a-ha…
- Stillness is the midwife of truth.
And, what of 2013? I am, as of this writing, not prepared with specifics. But, I do wish to live as my Christmas prayer recently expressed:
May we birth the beauty we bear inside us; May we live in love abundant;
May we heal what is broken, within and among us; May we be lights unto the world.