It's been a week of reflecting -- a week of peeling away the layers to reveal old memories. This hasn't felt like a "year", it's been tremendously longer than that. The days appear to go by faster the older you get, and yet, when you look at the end of the year and see the 12 months behind you, it doesn't feel so fast after all. At least not to me, not this year, not in a year where I was cradling the pain and needing to step outside of the shadow to see the actual light. It was brighter than I remembered, and while my eyes didn't burn from the impact, tears still fell... in a year of building so many relationships, and needing to say goodbye to others, how is it that at the end of the year I feel as though I am always meant to face the final dark alone?
It's the Cave. It calls to me, even now, even as the words flow (at a fragmented pace), that retreating to the Cave is what I would normally be doing this time of year. I go within, retreat, and I emerge later, not necessarily anew, sometimes merely skeptical that anything has changed, but generally more aware, in some capacity, and then upon realizing that it isn't a retreat after all, I understand more that it has become an escape. I consciously choose to escape come the winter months. Hibernation is what my Totem embraces, but there's hibernating out of nature and there's hibernating out of fear/discomfort. I recognize it clearly this year... again, how bright that light is...
I don't think that I have fully processed Joe's death. It's eating at me... the sudden loss... my heart is pained, terribly pained... I'm thinking how tonight I won't get one of his texts to wish me a happy new year, to say he loves me... I won't hear from him in that way anymore, and it hurts, terribly. He was the one who knew me, who accepted me as beautiful before I recognized my own beauty; he was protective of me, and he valued the light he felt I so easily shared with others, even when I thought it wasn't shining at all. He's the person I'm thinking about this New Year's Eve...
The other side to that pain is awareness. This year brought so much of that. The child-like innocence felt stronger, unwilling to crumble from the pain, which I'm quite grateful for, but the realization that trust isn't something that is sacredly honored was a challenging lesson to be presented with. I haven't quite finished learning it -- and I never want to be one of those jaded people who feels burned by relationships, nor do I want to ice the pain and become numb, but I just want to continue on with the teachings of compassion and loving-kindness, and hope that in my lifetime I can achieve that essence of enlightenment so many of us quest for.
It has, however, slipped my memory that not only are we putting a calendar year to bed, we are also saying farewell to a decade. A decade, really? Sometimes blinking fast forwards your vision, but a decade seems much longer than it actually sounds, and this decade could have been doubled with the many many changes that were afoot.
It's hard to imagine that this decade saw the shift from Maiden to Mother... I went from questioning my purpose to embracing it... I went from an extremely shy and awkward womyn to one that feels able to fully breathe in her skin, without reservation... let us not forget the shift from student to teacher -- that was a journey of facing fears of inadequacies and having only one option stare you in the face to either move forward or stay back... the backwards road was met with bumps and bruises, though it doesn't help that I am extremely clumsy, but if not for those bruises I wouldn't have realized how much that pain and discomfort was both necessary and unnecessary... or maybe I would have... lessons come as they come, I've learned to let go of the need to decipher its every meaning and just be still and listen for a moment.
Next year is the year of the Teacher for me. It's the time where I put forth that which has been planted... I feel ready for what's ahead. This year has challenged me in those ways, to "prepare" me (as much as one can) in various areas of my life. The student hat seems to always be there, and this coming year will be no different. I'm embarking on another year of the Margha Program, having not completed it to my standards, I'm ready to begin anew with that. The last two years of Buddhism training has been met with death -- it has challenged me deeply to remain centered in compassion, despite the flight syndrome that floats to the surface. Jonathan's death occurred while I was away at retreat... Abuela died during the months where I was getting to the core of the practice, having just spoken with Lama Willa about her dying and the exercise in which she shared with me was more profound than I can say... Joe's death was a culmination of going within and being in complete denial. It was hard to be "on the cushion" with anything then, and I didn't meet my own standards of practice, but I held the core of the training deep. This coming year the focus will be Open Awareness. Quite timely really.
For now, I remain quiet. I yearn for the quiet. It has been slightly noisy the past few days in my mind. Cluttered, too many thoughts, I care not for the distractions, but just want to be still... like the breath, which are slow and shallow, the introspective breath. Here's to a year of breathing deeply, mindfully, and heart-centered. While aspects of me feel exposed, the raw edges feeling rather rough from close proximity to things that may not serve, but I wasn't aware until leaning up against them. I don't want to retreat to the Cave for anything other than renewal. In the end it's always choice. Tonight, while everyone is out partying and drinking the night away, I crave solitude, to truly reflect. Not because it's New Year's Eve, but because it just feels necessary. The ground is frozen, though the Sun's warm rays have melted everything a bit today, but there's something quite serene about being still. Just still.
"Reinvent" is playing over and over again in my mind. My iPod shuffled through it four times in less than an hour the other day. In fact, it's been shuffling through it a lot. There are two lines that grab me tonight:
"And I know that time
Brings change to everything" ...
"And maybe this is wrong
And I should leave well enough alone
Or maybe it's right
And today starts
For the rest of my life..."
Tonight it doesn't feel "wrong" or "right", it doesn't even feel "wanted" or "unwanted". It just feels... still. It's like a frozen pond... I don't want to step out into it, but I just want to marvel at the beauty surrounding it and just watch and breathe. There's something so beautiful about the stillness...