There is something about a new year ahead that makes me pause and think about time. The time that has passed, the time that is yet to come, and how time can be so strange. We can all remember moments that stretched into lifetimes, and other times, when years seemed to pass by in a heartbeat.
As I was driving home the other day, it dawned on me that my daughter was all of a sudden nine years old. In the blink of an eye, here she was, part of our lives for almost one full decade. I couldn’t quite believe it. And a second later, I realized that in the next blink of an eye, she would be eighteen years old, a grown adult, with her own life, her own opinions, her own secrets.
The gravity of being at this half way point of sorts hit me with such weight that I couldn’t breathe for a moment. Where did the time go? How could I even imagine her growing further and further from my reach? I had the sudden irrational thought of wanting to put my entire life on hold and spend every possible moment with these children, not wanting to waste a single opportunity to connect with them, notice them, inhale them.
And although I know it doesn’t quite work that way, something shifted in me during that drive. Since then, I try to inhabit the ordinary moments of our lives together with a little more presence. When I kiss my children, I hold on to them a few seconds longer. When I hold their hands, I feel the softness of trust and connection. When I look into their eyes, I see them with not just my eyes, but my whole heart.
I don’t make New Years Resolutions, but I love the idea (inspired by Chris Brogan) of using a few words to define what we want the upcoming year to be about. It was my realization while driving that reminded me that our days are indeed numbered. Nothing will last forever. And although we can’t necessarily sustain a life lived like each day is our last, we can try to stay connected to our deepest priorities and values as a guide for how we make our choices.
In that spirit, my words for 2016 are: slow, conscious, and beauty.
I want to slow down my life. I want to remember that there is no deadline, no finish line, no prize at the end for racing through my days. I can’t take in the funny sounds my English bulldogs make when they are sleeping, or how the dark green leaves branch out against the early morning sun, if I am rushing. I can’t breathe if I am going too fast. I want to linger over coffee just a few minutes longer than necessary. I want to sleep in on the weekends. I want to get lost in a book. I want to go for long walks with my children with no destination in mind. In 2016, I want to slow this train down.
I want to be conscious. I want to pay attention to my choices, how I am spending my time, who I am spending it with, and why. If I am taking a shower, I want to be in the shower, not in my first session of the day, or thinking about cooking dinner. I want to live life in direct contact with my experience, not through the filter of the running commentary in my head. I want to be present for all of the small and big things my children want to share with me. I want to notice my patients, all of the ways in which they are gifts of wisdom and courage and insight.
I want to cultivate beauty. I struggled with this one for a bit, because for a long time, I thought beauty was frivolous. But I realized that beauty is what makes my life awaken everyday. Beauty is fully inhabiting who we are so that we radiate our own natural energy into the world. It is the delicate balance of water, land, air, fire that creates this world that we live in. It is the warmth of love, it is the embrace of kindness, it is the connectedness that links us all. Beauty is the innocence in my childrens’ eyes, and the wisdom in my grandmothers’ eyes. Beauty is creativity, writing, music, art. Beauty brings color and vibrance to our daily existence. This year, I want to notice beauty, and I want to create and share beauty.
I don’t think I will soon forget the feeling that my daughter is halfway through this journey from birth to adulthood. My son is not far behind. With each passing year, month, week, day, hour, minute, second, there is an ability to pause and pay attention. I hope my three words will be a faithful guide and compass as I navigate yet one more year, trying to take it all in.
So today, and in the week ahead, I invite you to join me in thinking of a word, a few words, a phrase or a quote, that will guide your choices and perspective in 2016. I would love for you to share your thoughts with me!
With gratitude, Monisha