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Namaste, 2020.

At the end of 2019 I spent a ton of time and energy setting out my intentions and goals for 2020, creating the most organized and comprehensive plan of attack for the new year I ever had. I separated my desired outcomes into categories and sub-categories such as: work, health, spirit, attitude, parenting, etc. I was driven and ready to kill it. And as I look back on those goals for the first time in many months, it appears that I actually did okay on them, despite being totally shut down on many fronts in mid-March for the rest of the year.

In the days leading up to New Years there's always this inundation of pressure from every outlet, insisting on January 1st as a deadline to begin crafting a new self, a whole new life. In the past I've fallen victim to the urgency to create a plan for a new me in the coming year, albeit to mostly positive effect. My Resolutions are usually reasonable and I love the freshness of a new year--it's invigorating. I like knowing I can always begin again. And I love to plan.

But the most glaring lesson I take away from 2020 is that holding on too tightly to future plans can cause suffering when they slip away. The Future is a made up construct--it simply doesn't yet exist. Being so attached to a desired vision of 2020 caused me genuine grief when I lost it all in March.

As I look forward to the mysteries that 2021 holds, it feels for the first time in a long time like a truly blank slate: I have no idea where I will be living, what I will be doing for work, whom I will meet and spend time with. I'll still take the time today to write out my goals and intentions, but I'll do it with a lighter attitude and much less tenacity, thus applying the popular concept in yoga of sthira sukha, which I like to translate as "strength and grace". It comes from Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 2.46 in which he describes how we should approach the asana (physical poses) practice: with a balance of strength/vigor, but also ease. Sthira Sukha is so trendy among modern yogis because don't we want to approach everything in life with this balance of drive and chill? Of course we do! But most of us don't, at least not concurrently. Personally, I have moments of moderation, but I feel like I'm mostly bouncing (hard) against the walls of extremes, whizzing past the midpoint of balance.

For 2021, I would like to take each day, each moment, as it comes--not putting too much pressure on it, but not letting it slip by unused. I don't have too many concrete plans, and I accept this as the way things have to be for now. I would like to be more compassionate and less judgmental. I would like to listen better, and pause longer before reacting. I would like to pay more attention, to people, situations, moments sweet and rough.

The Sanskrit word Namaste does not mean 'hello'--although it is used as a greeting among Hindi-speaking peoples--nor 'goodbye', nor 'class is over now; you can roll up your mats and get on with your lives". It means "The divine (or 'light') in me sees and bows to the divine in you". If I believed in a divine source--and I think I do--I could see divinity in the craziness of 2020: The entire world slowed down, rested, allowing some restoration to the earth and its inhabitants. There was a huge, conscious-raising reckoning of the horrific, systemic treatment of Black people in this country. Unqualified psychopaths inexplicably given immense power four years ago had it finally taken from them. These are good things, though just the first of many necessary steps towards a better future. One could see them as miraculous, even.

There has also been unimaginable pain, suffering, and death due to the Coronavirus, unknowable anguish as a result of millions of people losing income, homes, stability. There has been much hatred and division.

If I believe in a divine existence, it is not one with any human characteristics, not one that is benevolent or punitive. It is one that is mysterious, largely unable to be understood by humans, who have such a limited scope of consciousness and understanding.

So yes, I can see and bow to the light in all that happened in 2020 for what it was, the beneficial and the horrific.

Now don't let the door hit you on the way out, 2020.


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