I’m writing on the Sunday before the New Year, one more week of my holiday time still to go; it is still 2019...but 2020 is within touching distance. For the past 8 years I have spent “twixmas” spending some time to pause and reflect on the year that has been, and how I might live the year to come based on my experiences, insight, and learning.
All in all, 2019 was a “good year”. When I cast an eye over my review of the year at the end of 2018, I see how I have, on the whole, stayed true to my wishes for 2019. I wanted to settle and consolidate; I wanted to trim back and relinquish some commitments and not take on new things. The “only” thing counter to that intention was becoming a Vajrayana student - but with a tried and tested faith on my Buddhist path (which I started in 2010), I have come to realise that some opportunities are presented to be taken with timing that is often not on our agenda.
I walked out of my house in the middle of the week and the first sight that registered was a tree surgeons van. They had parked beside one of the Elm trees along our street, and my heart sank: since moving to this street two years ago four Elms have been cut down, victims of Dutch Elm disease. This was to be the fifth. And I knew this was a pattern, the wind borne disease gradually marching down the street towards our end of the road - where two more sit. The “twins”, as I found out from the tree surgeons, were next. The tree surgeons shared my sadness - "we came in to this work because we love trees, and yet people often make us the bad guys". I have no idea when the twins will meet their fated end, but I make sure I pay homage to the them, nodding their way each time I leave the house and return.
Speaking to neighbours in the street, I am not alone in my sadness. Many of us bought houses here because of the tree lined character so typical of Victorian town planning. You can almost feel the 1900s here, the narrow road, the first motor cars. I can imagine the Elms in their full glory, lining the road like guards.
I awoke very early on Friday morning. Ironically, the morning I can take an easier start I wake up bright as a button early. I’ve a long term relationship with insomnia though, so waking up at 4am after 6 hours sleep doesn’t feel as irritating or worrying as it used to - especially when I wake up with the feelings I did Friday. Once I “came to”, and felt below the story of “its too early” I connected to my experience - I felt alive, energised, excitement was there coursing through the core of my being. There was a wholeness and a potential that I came to realise and acknowledge has not felt within reach for maybe a couple of years.
This time two years ago, I was struggling with severe Reynauds in my hands - the first winter in our new home, at first I put it down to the challenge of keeping an old Victorian house well-heated. But the poor blood flow to my fingertips became an ever present dull ache in my finger joints, and the symptoms seemed to spread across my body and worsen. In the summer of 2019, I arrived at a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue. I provide this summary to give some context to my experience on Friday. As I met with my supervisor later that morning, I explained to her that it felt like I was beginning to bounce back after 2 years of walking through treacle each day. I hadn’t had this energy and relish for my life, my work for so long. As well as the excitement there was relief.
How come? What is coming together that is allowing a fogginess to lift?
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