In our old Transition initiative back in St Andrews we have a little prezi presentation of our circular year. The idea is that we can remember the rhythms and the peaks and troughs of energy throughout the busy year with some visual aid. January was always the month for reflection and resting. I like that, and thought I would do the same for a little while.
I’m doing my resting and reflecting in Sweden. I’ve spent the past week or so flying around golf courses and forests on skis, powered by deep breaths of fresh air and enjoying the diagonal rhythm of movement it gives the body and the mind. But now the snow is melting and I’ve found my way back to the computer screen once again.
So I’ve now been living this undefined traveller’s life for about eight months. I thought, since nothing desperately exciting is happening right now, I’d share some things with you that I have learnt along the way.
Take the time to dream
Start every day with dreaming. Tap into your inner motivation, know what is actually making you get up in the morning, and make sure you have it in focus and feel you are at least looking towards it every day.
I’ve found I have led a lot of my life by habit, in a routine and a normality that is externally defined, often by an educational institution and its authoritative expectations. I used to find it annoying, frustrating, and limiting. But it was also a security. Any time I woke up not quite sure of what is right and wrong in the world, I always had my obligations towards that institution to fall back on as my safety net. I am now outside any such context, and need to create that security for myself. It doesn’t come automatically, but takes awareness, contemplation, and most importantly visions and dreams.
Feel the gratitude
Develop a practice of actively searching within and naming what you feel grateful for each day.
Just as there are less clear structures around what you ought to do with your life, there are also no clearly defined parameters for what should be considered good, what counts as an achievement, what is something to be proud of or grateful for. All of that I need to find within myself now, and the simple action of naming three things that I’m grateful for each night before I go to bed has made me more confident in knowing what is good and right for me. And strangely (or perhaps not), the more I have identified what I am grateful for, the more events, actions, items, and encounters seem to appear that induce this feeling. And a life full of gratitude, it can never be bad.
Be open and vulnerable to strangers
Relate your deep, inner self to the people you meet. Don’t let conventions put you into the socially expected stage of politeness but courageously and unfalteringly express your true feelings and thoughts.
Not only has this meant that I have managed to form deep friendships in the space of a few days, but it has also fulfilled a need to express myself openly and honestly. I’ve found that if I wait to do this until I’m with people I trust a lot, like old friends or family, I end up not feeling great. Because I’m not in touch with them very regularly I wouldn’t access and expose my inner self enough, and just feel like a shallow person. Besides, you get more hugs this way (always a good thing). Some people get scared or don’t understand you, they’re not worth getting to know anyway.
Always carry a spoon
It is handy for so many things. Most importantly obviously for eating things, but also as a spade, hammer, screwdriver, wedge, spontaneous instrument… the list is so long.
Relaxing does not mean doing nothing
Have something like an instrument or knitting with you, so you can relax away from your surroundings in a productive way.
Especially when finding myself in distressing or demanding situations (like refugee camps and police targeted protests) I’ve felt a need afterwards to just relax and not think about everything going on around me. Not having a home to go back to where I know and have designed the environment to my comfort, this can be tricky. Forget just having a rest, that puts my brain in over-drive and meditation can be too demanding (especially in, say, a loud, cold, crowded bus station at mid-night). Having something mechanic and simple to do with my hands means I can keep myself fully occupied and create a little bubble of relaxing concentration and comfort, wherever I am. I’ve also find walking to be valuable self-time, and try to use it as my mode of transport whenever possible.
Any winter reflections from your side of things?