Happy New Year!
The rollover into any new year brings with it, for many, the opportunity to start afresh; to make new years resolutions; to draft new plans for a successful year; to eliminate the unnecessary; to incorporate positive changes and so forth. And no doubt by now you would have viewed the many good wishes and the standard new year rah rah from your connections extolling much of the above.
I am aware, however, that for some of you reading this and for some you know, entering the new year is not one of happiness but more akin to experiencing the heat and isolation of the desert rather than the refreshment and promise of the oasis.
- For the woman who has just left an abusive relationship and is currently in a women’s shelter
- The CEO who was made redundant two days before Christmas
- The couple who on New Years day decided to part ways
- The person who thinks the world is better off without them
- The business owner who is heading back to work uncertain if they can make it through the next six months
- The homeless person facing another year of begging for money and cold winter nights
- <YOU CAN INSERT YOUR OWN OR YOUR FRIENDS STORY HERE IF RELEVANT…>
While not wanting to take the shine off the new year, the above is simply the reality for some reading this and for others you know. Some will enter the desert for the first time; for others, it is a case of same shit different year – same sand, same heat, same isolation… yet all the while searching for that elusive oasis and the end to desert sands.
My Desert Education
I recall a number of years ago, I was so glad that a new year was starting given the hardship of the previous year which included a marriage break up. Little did I know that the new year was to be much harsher than I had ever experienced, ushering me from the edge of the desert into a trudge that was to last for a significant period of time. Some of the things I have learned personally from desert wanderings are:
- To go with the desert and learn to relax in it (which is extremely counterintuitive)
- To be kind to me
- Desert education is needed at different life points and in many ways is superior to all other forms of learning. We learn the way of ‘our soul’ not the well-meaning way of others
- To let go of all unnecessary baggage
- To never let go of hope in that one day, I will eventually make it out the other side
- I hear life-changing whispers in the quietness of isolation that I never heard in the din of busyness
- I find out who my real friends are
- I find out who I am rather than just understanding what I do
- We can become incredibly resilient because we’ve been to the driest place we know. We’ve encountered it, done the journey and made it through. We know that whatever life throws at us, we are more equipped to deal with it.
- We become more empathetic to others doing it tough
Joseph Campbell wrote, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
The desert is one of those places where we find our own path, one step at a time.
If you or someone you know, is on the edge of desert entry or, is experiencing the likelihood of another solitary trudge through the wilderness – my hope is that you exercise kindness, both to yourself and others; to help others on their dark sojourn; that you glimpse incredible beauty you’ve not seen before – both in your life’s landscape and your own inner being; that you find the occasional oasis along the way; that you trust the process and that you never give up. While deserts can stretch for miles they do have an end.
I know that it won’t be feeling like a happy new year (and nor should it) but I do hope that for you, it will be a significant year.