This time of year expectations and obligations are abundant. Many of us overextend ourselves and/or commit to events we would rather sit out. Family and societal expectations are complicated - a delicate balance of meeting our individual needs with the collective desires. It’s not easy to go against the grain of society, it takes a lot of energy, and frankly, in the short term it may be easier and safer to appease, but what is the long term cost to our wellbeing?
Everywhere you look, this time of year tells us “normal” during the holiday season is a person who is happy, festive, and loves to gather. This is the dominant conversation, and yet most people I encounter don’t fit this normal narrative. Instead, people are tending grief, sadness, overwhelm, emotional wounds, and anticipatory anxiety during this time of year. When society says be happy, festive, gather and our inner experience is more complicated than that, it’s natural to bounce between the two extremes. We need to find the messy, complex middle. The middle that is spacious and multifaceted, that allows room for us as we truly are, not as we “should” be.
Normal is a construct when it is applied to humans. There is no normal human, only what society has deemed palatable and desirable. But what if you had a magic wand and you could create a world that met your needs, your desires? Take a moment, imagine that magic wand…and now reflect…What would that look like? What would your days be like? How would your evenings shape up? What qualities/values would be front and center in your world? What type of world would welcome you in all your glory?
It’s not easy to occupy the liminal space beyond societal, communal, and familial expectations. But what if you followed that impulse to hide in the closet/bathroom/backyard for just a moment of silence? What if you lived in a society that welcomed solitude, introversion, and reflection? What if you gave yourself permission to create gatherings that fulfilled your needs & desires for connection and not what society says our gatherings should look like?
Life, like us, is anything but normal. Each day passes, we have our routines, our daily rhythms and at some point, life will say “enough” and eventually invite (or force) in a new way. This is a choice point - a path with many variations - a welcome change, a change that is inconvenient but one that offers possibility, or a change that just f#cking sucks but requires us to move through no matter what. We all have experienced some form of this in our lives and the last couple of years has been a collective through point with various degrees of suck.
This solstice is one of those choice points. To continue the “normal” way or to embrace the individuality of you. Solstice is a magical still point where darkness beckons us to sing what our soul desires. Here in the longest night for us in the northern hemisphere, I invite you to light a candle, take out your magic wand, and whisper (or write) to yourself a world beyond normal.