What I understand to be true is that it’s ok to begin the new year motivated, inspired, and ready to go. It’s ok to feel hopeful. It’s ok for the new year to begin as a blurry line between one day and the next. It’s ok to slide in gently, with soft edges and flowers in your hair. It’s ok to arrive confused and out of sorts, to have really no firm idea. It’s ok to feel afraid or trepidatious or perhaps somewhat uncertain. It’s ok to arrive in love, alone, or somewhere in between. Ok to arrive feeling slightly beige, or perhaps you are florescent. Ok to be angry, or sad, or falling apart. The day will arrive to greet us and hold us just the same.
What I understand to be true is that change is necessary, inevitable but it’s normal to feel pangs of hanging on. It’s ok to not want to let go at the same time as you want things to arrive. It’s ok to be new, and also to be not quite ready for the newness. Or not right now at least.
What I understand to be true is there are many metrics for success, some without signs that are outward facing. That the numbers being lower, the bank account less than plump, all the sums we’re doing adding up to slightly less, does not necessarily mean that the thing isn’t working, or that you’re not ok, or that something needs to fixed but instead might mean that you’ve taken time to nurture yourself, that priorities have shifted, that you’re busy with your family, or caring for something or someone or yourself, or simply have been outside more and inside less. Numbers cannot be, are not at all, the measure of a full and well lived life.
What I understand to be true is that life can be brutal and hard, and beautiful and tender all at once. That death and aliveness are intertwined and dependent on each other’s gain. That is seems like these ideas compete, but in fact there’s space for both. That sometimes all that we can do is bear witness, say I’m sorry, I know it’s hard. That it’s ok to take your tears to the trees, and the moss and the rivers and the ocean. Maybe the ocean is salty as the way to keep our tears a secret and connect us all the same?
What I understand to be true is that unused creativity becomes energy without productive purpose. That the forces of imagination are the elements of life speaking aloud, arriving in the tiny and the beautiful. That the gentle tapping of a call to do and follow something that you love is an exercise in courage, in thought expressed as color, or words, or hands in the soil, or reins in the hand, or however complicated or simple it may be. It’s worth it and seems important to say strongly and out loud, it’s worth it and so are you.
What I understand to be true is that I hear my heartbeat in hoofbeats. That I find the rhythm of my blood in the movement of four feet. That I have the capacity to fly and still be connected to the ground.
What I understand to be true is if you insist on living in a box that’s too small for you, sooner or later it’s either the box or the body that breaks. That if it’s the body that breaks the box, it can be painful for the mind to catch up. Sometimes we have to allow ourselves the time to breathe more gently, hold our edges more lightly and move out of the way of a process that’s already caught us in its flow.
What I understand to be true is that teaching is a process of exchange, a reciprocal conversation. A weaving of threads. A cycle of renewal and upliftment. That in the process of teaching and of learning, all and both are challenged but not diminished, supported but not suppressed, heard and open to hearing in equal amounts.
What I understand to be true is that wonder is a portal to care. That to share the experience of awe is to multiply it by a thousand. That to walk in delight is a form of activism, especially when expressed, encouraged, and exchanged.
What I understand to be true is that we are designed to sense and feel our way, not think our way, through life. That we aren’t supposed to control, constrict, and contort experience in attempts to keep us safe. That that form of safety is a falsity. That a feeling body is a vital one, that to have a thin skin is to be open to all the measures of beauty that are free to be experienced, the hardships free to be witnessed and transformed and that both are present to declare that we are all owed equal space on hallowed ground.
What I understand to be true is that size is not a sign of might. That the tiny Locust can devastate a land several states wide. That the smallest of Krill is required to sustain the vastness of the ocean. That the Mantis Shrimp, an underwater creature the size of your thumb has the best eyesight on any creature on the planet. That the Water Bear can hold its breath indefinitely, be boiled in water (and survive), is essentially indestructible, all the while quietly going about its business in a body you’ve probably never heard of.
What I understand to be true is that my heart breaks regularly in the battle between economics and the environment. That when we talk about it and say, yes, it always goes like this, that things will change, I understand. But I am sad for what gets lost in the meantime while we finally work it out.
What I understand to be true is that most people wildly, undoubtedly, enthusiastically underestimate their worth. That they tolerate what they shouldn’t, listen to what they needn’t, give energy to the things that keep them stuck.
What I understand to be true is that, sometimes, I want to take people by the shoulder, shake them, and say to them very loudly, do you know how wonderful you are? Please refuse to live in a skin too small that someone else requires you fit into.
What I understand to be true is that the arts are part of what has saved me. That poetry is a portal to another planet, that writing is a way to make sense of my experience and to express that in a tangible form. That to play with pencils and art and colour is not the domain reserved for the young but a practice as essential as breathing, as nourishing as food, as enlivening as cold wind on hot cheeks.
What I understand to be true is that friendship is the bloodline you choose, the seat you always place your bag on to keep free for the person that makes you laugh til you weep, giggle til you snort, ugly cry, except with them they do not see the ugly. The person with the shoulder the shape of the side of your head, the arms just wide enough to hold you in a full embrace as though they were made to measure just big enough to keep you in a swallow.
What I understand to be true is that dogs share a specific form of joy expressed as circular vibration, a show of waggling ripples all the way from top to tail. A whirling dervish of delight that requires only your presence and kind words.
What I understand to be true is that we don’t always get it right. That there really is no right. That sometimes, the best that we can do will be viewed by future versions of ourselves as not ok, but the practice of being kind really is the only end.
What I understand to be true is that sometimes, walking and talking is a softer cure for conversation than face to face speaking will allow. That flowers in the house are always worth the effort. That a kitchen table well used and full of paint and pencils and well-loved books is the right way to use a table, even if it looks slightly messy there at times.
What I understand to be true is that our ancestors whisper their thoughts inside us, and we are all at once the future ancestor of someone whose thoughts we’ll whisper into ears just the same, even long after it’s been forgotten that we ever had a name.
What I understand to be true is that planting trees is always a good idea. That the trees always talk back. Of course, they do.
What I understand to be true is that to have your heart broken and rebroken is normal and to expected. That it’s through the experience of many tiny deaths that we get to know that we’re alive, and we’re ok. That’s it’s a good idea to check in with people and see if they need a hug. That many people feel alone. And maybe we can play with being alone together, so we’re not alone at all.
What I understand to be true is that family is precious. That there’s a specific softness of skin between the hair and the cheeks that’s mine for kissing. That family is made, not born, that it creates its own form of compound interest with regular deposits and is a privilege that requires energy to maintain.
What I understand to be true is that individual freedom is dependent of the freedom of the collective. That there is no mine and not yours, no yours and not mine. That as creatures we are cooperative, that the universe is friendly and to experience anything that sits outside that as an ‘other’ is an aberration to this universal law.
May we all stay true to the essence of our own aliveness.
May we make a daily practice of wonder, of kindness and of care.
May we tread the earth lightly.
May we recognize our privilege and act in service of those who do not have the same.
May your new year be peaceful and happy.
What I understand to be true is that everyone deserves this.