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A New Year’s Message

It may not surprise you that my welcoming message for the New Year incorporates some reflections on our holiday weather.  It has been an interesting time away with a variety of weather-related experiences; some of us return well-rested and seemingly unscathed while others are still dealing with the ice storm’s aftermath.

What was evident was that regardless of the conditions we each experienced, the storm and its effects were something over which we had no control. Being out of control can be unsettling, but it is often the feeling of losing control that tests us- it calls into play the need for resilience and resourcefulness.

While I was blessed with power and thus warmth, there were many I know who were not, and for days on end. But regardless of the difficulties, what many heard about and witnessed was example after example of people helping each other:

  • Those with power inviting others to their homes or providing them with food and hot drinks
  • Neighbourhoods gathering together to move debris and clear their streets and sidewalks
  • Strangers stopping to assist the elderly as they tried to walk the icy streets

Along with these examples of assistance came a forced pause for many people. Without power, phones, in some cases internet, many people were experiencing board games by candlelight, quiet time or even…..yes….lengthy face-to-face conversations so often missing with the regular busyness of day-to-day life.

I realise that this gives a bit of a ‘romantic’ version of what was a very cold dark experience for many, but for the most part people have come away with a sense of just how lucky they are and how resourceful one can be in times of adversity.

This feeling of not being in control is also one that many of us experience when faced with our own issues, whether it is a difficult situation, a challenging piece of work or a perceived block to what we wish to accomplish.

Last term I came across a great post on an online newsletter I follow called Brain Pickings. The author, Maria Popova, writes about Bruce Lee, famous martial artist, and his approach to resilience. She explains that Lee’s Master, Yip Man, told Lee to “preserve yourself by following the natural bends in things and don’t interfere. Remember to never assert yourself against nature; never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but control it by swinging with it.” Yip’s notion that these bends are natural is important. To me it implies that these bends – or difficulties- are almost certain. Life is never without challenges or impasses, so we need to acknowledge them and not be afraid to swing with them.

Every new calendar year, resolutions abound. I suspect many of you may have considered some, perhaps even committed to some. Personally, I have decided to have New Year intentions rather than resolutions. Somehow it seems to soften the blow. But just like Lee’s Master, or those who have tried to make the best of our extreme weather, I would ask us to consider looking at the complexities we deal with in our lives, knowing they are inevitable, and learn to swing with them, to be unafraid to seek support, and to make the best of them.

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