A great wind carries me across the sky

We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time. 

T.S. Eliot

Sometimes
I go about in pity for myself,
and all the while,
a great wind carries me across the sky. 

Chippewa Saying

Is this where we predicted the wind would carry us last year? Of course not. But here we are. Where we didn’t expect to be, a place that is strange and interesting, perplexing and possibly depressing or invigorating—depending on your mindset. But aren’t we always here? The year winds down and we are mostly happy that the old one is behind us and are glad to welcome the hoped-for changes that a new year might bring. Right?

So easy to feel like we’ve just been here before, the malaise, the monotony, and the melancholy. The returning to the beginning, trying to see it again for the first time phenomena can be challenging as our focus returns to the horizon in this predictable loop of life– the end of the year and New Year’s. “Year-end”, outside of accounting connotations, is a mythical and somewhat irrelevant Gregorian calendar date that we bestow too much importance upon. Far less important than our birth date, don’t you think? But somehow, it gives us the illusion for renewal. But more often a procrastinator’s excuse. “Next year” I will make changes! Kick the can further down cannery row. And the place settings at the pity party are set.
 
It can be a time to reflect, to take inventory of these winds that are governing who we are and where we are going. In the blur of time, with great expedience, we repeat familiar and comfortable thoughts that fill the void. Small incremental promises to ourselves we don’t uphold because they aren’t that important. Promises that sound good, like the books we will read or the visits to the gym. These little promises can be broken with impunity. At least we think. But as they told us in business school there are opportunity costs.

We do things to distract us from this reality, from this opportunity: screens, substances, streaming series, to dull the pain and amuse us. So we can speed up the clock and make the time elapse faster. We have less time for nuance, for awe, for beauty or even personal insight to get through it all unscathed and unbored. We were never made to loathe Mondays and live on weekends. We are not here to ride a carousel that goes round and round, knowing it never leaves the amusement park. All of this can make our “new year” plans predictable and uninspiring.

The circle of life is infinite. Everything begins and ends here. For everyone. We travel around the sun and time marches on as it always will. It goes round and round and we end up at the same place or feels like the same place but it’s never the same place. For we have changed. The world that envelopes us has evolved.  There are complementary and often competing forces that push us and pull us around the circle– extrinsic and intrinsic. These “weather” patterns influence how we fully appreciate the tailwinds and the headwinds. We focus disproportionately on the external factors that dictate our weather, our moods, our sense of confidence about where we’re going. But it is often the internal weather patterns that influence what we can see, what we understand about our direction and our path. 

As I’ve gotten older and hope myself into my “wiser” years, I’ve learned that there are flows around me and flows within me that I must surrender to and be transported to new places. Allowing the great winds, the winds of the time and the winds of my soul, to energize my wings. The winds in nature spread seeds and plastic bags. Carrying the nutrients of life as well as our waste. They travel at the same speeds in the same directions, it is up to us to discern what is life giving? And what is life reducing?
 
What if we change it up and do the opposite of what we are thinking? Could that work? I think of Seinfeld’s George Costanza and his view of the world and his attempt at “doing the opposite”. As philosopher Jerry advised him, “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite has to be right.”

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. Something that makes you quake, and mumble, and hesitate. Something that will really stretch you. Not a variation on a theme. Not a tip toe in the tulips. But an opposite. A change that has risks, at least in your mind. Here’s the deal, you say out of one side of those beautiful lips that you want to “grow and learn new things”. C’mon admit it, you say this all of the time. Fear and failure are your only tango partners if you want to really grow, explore, receive a meaningful education, and end up on a new part of the dance floor. 

We come to another moment in the circle, a familiar time for introspection, to think and to quiet the distractions that abound. A brief and fleeting space to rethink whether this will be the time in the circle, to give intention to our itinerary, to give destiny to our destination or to provide ambition to our aimlessness.
 
You are so much better than you think. You are surrounded by everything you need. Will this be the time when we arrive where we started and see it anew? When our indifference and self-pity will be awakened by the great and warm flow of our existence? 

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