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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Some Years

I can’t sleep. We slept too late this morning - but Andrea’s asleep so maybe that isn’t the reason I’m awake. I hate when it feels like the entire neighborhood is slumbering with ease and there I am, gazing into the darkness. There’s nothing like a bout of insomnia to make you feel alone. Even the cats have abandoned me.

I work tomorrow and I want to say, “Wait. I’m not ready.” It feels like there is something I’m trying to figure out - I think it’s 2020. I most people are ready to write the entire year off as a dumpster fire but was it all bad? Each moment?

Years ago, I came across a quote by Zoe’s Neale Hurston from the book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, that read, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

Whenever I reach the end of a year I think, “Well - which was this year?”

For me, I think this was a year that answered questions. Every year, for a few years running, I’ve gifted myself with a My Intent bracelet. This year, 2020, the word on my bracelet was “discernment”. When I selected this word, I was spending a weekend at Kripalu out in western Massachusetts. I remember thinking that I wanted to tune into the small, quiet voice that speaks inside of me. That voice is easy for me to hear at Kripalu. Other times, it’s difficult to hear - drown out by the cacophony of things competing for our time and attention.

And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” - Iain Thomas

So, I knew on that crisp autumnal day at Kripalu that discernment required me to yank my hand back and put it on my heart and discern what is important. It’s easy to give into uncertainty and let it carry you. You can bob along atop uncertainty for quite some time. Or maybe, it’s not quite uncertainty but rather a misunderstanding. A belief that’s a bit flawed.

This year, as we drove to Lynchburg, Virginia for Andrea’s work at an office she never set foot in during 2020, I felt sad leaving what I thought was home. A place that Andrea and I had co-created. A place we opened to our friends - to our tribe. And then we arrived at this place, where we are now, where we have been for 9-months. Just the two of us and our rag tag group of pets. And I sat a lot more - in more ways than one - to meditate. Meditation is a great way to discern. To hear. My idea of home changed, evolved. Nowadays, home is no longer a physical space to me.

There’s a quote or saying attributed to Edgar Cayce that goes like this: “Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening to God.”  I think that’s true - although these days, God a lot different to me than I’d imagined back when I was attending Lutheran schools. But I believe Cayce was on point about the listening. And the listening gave me answers in 2020.

It led me down a path to deepen my mindfulness meditation, to share the practice with others, to explore coaching as a way to support others in their quest to discern. One day, while riding in my car, I heard a radio ad for a volunteer opportunity in my area. I discerned that I heard this radio ad for a reason and I embarked on a 9-week training program for a volunteer gig - a gig that continues to answer questions for me. Questions that I didn’t even realize I had.

Often, things were difficult or lonely or downright scary this year. I focused on gratitude - because really? What else was there to focus on? A pandemic? An election? No, no...

Once, during the year, someone asked me if I ever had a difficult time coming up with my gratitude list. I don’t - I keep it simple. This year, I met someone who has alopecia. The first time I’d heard of alopecia was when I arrived at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, for Army boot camp. A girl in my platoon was small - very slight, pale and alarmingly bald. She explained that she had alopecia which caused her a bit of trouble when pursuing enlistment but she’d overcome that hurdle. So when I met this person this year, I was grateful that my body knows how to grow hair all on its own. Isn’t that pretty fucking amazing? Live in wonder - just for a few moments each day. You’ll be overcome by gratitude.

In a few days, the calendar will change once more - new month and new year. And this year, there’s much less anticipation and magic. It will be ordinary in the sense that we know that COVID will not be disappearing with the turn of the calendar. Which is obviously a disappointment. But maybe this pandemic has saved your ass from a grinding commute each day? Or at least some days. If so, take some time to grow quiet and still and to listen - is the year asking you questions or answering them?

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