Holiday Season In Uncertain Times
A few years ago I shared with you an ancient parable about equanimity. As we step into the holiday season and prepare to transition into 2021, I wanted to take a moment today to share + reflect with you on this parable again.
This holiday season is the strangest of times... I don’t think any of us could have anticipated we would find ourselves where we are right now.
And while it has been a difficult time for so many people and the challenges ahead are still somewhat unknown, I choose to lean into the possibilities and opportunities ahead of us.
The parable about a farmer and his horse:
One day the farmer’s horse disappeared.
His neighbour came over and said “I’m so sorry to hear about your horse, what a misfortune”
The farmer replied: “Good or bad? Hard to tell”
A few days later the horse came back with a herd of wild horses, and again the neighbour came over exclaiming: “What good luck you have!”
And the farmer replied: “Good or bad? Hard to tell”
While trying to tame the wild horses the farmer’s son fell off and broke his leg.
The neighbour came by to commiserate. “Sorry about your son, what bad luck” he said.
The farmer replies: “Good or bad? Hard to tell”
The next day the army came into their village to recruit young men to join the war, but the son was discharged due to his leg. The neighbour came and said: “How fortunate!”
and the farmer replied: “Good or bad? Hard to tell.”
In Buddhism, equanimity is the ability to see without being caught in what we see (good or bad).
Seeing asks us to look at things as they really are. When we stop running around after our imagination - of what might be, of what could happen - we begin to see our experience as it really is. And things are usually better than we imagine them to be.
Often people misinterpret this idea of equanimity with not caring or being apathetic, but it’s not the case. Equanimity is all about focusing on what we can control vs. what we can’t control. It’s all about focusing on the solution vs. focusing on the problem. The idea is to develop a sense of steadiness with the challenges life presents to us. Thomas Paine once said, ”These are the times that try men's souls." And they're trying ours now.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t feel sadness, anger, frustration, overwhelm or fear, which are all 100% normal and part of our human experience. To me, this is a reminder that --
There is so much that we do get to choose.
It’s so important to remember + reconnect with the moments each day where you have a choice. All too often we forget that we have the freedom to make choices within our circumstances.
Which moments can you choose to focus on? (I encourage you to make a list!)
This year has asked us to step back from our over-programmed lives to notice the beauty of the world around us and the beauty of the people next to us.
This year has been teaching us to be still and then to get going, to slow down, tune in, and then decide on the life that we would like to create for ourselves.
We can only hear in the stillness, when the chatter of the world and our own minds can quiet down enough so you can hear the still small voice. In the stillness, the action you’re to take becomes utterly clear. You know it for certain in your bones.
Today, from now until the New Year and as we transition into 2021, may you find moments to do just this. May you find time to listen to that still small voice. To see, to be still, and only then to move, asking yourself from that place of clarity --
Who am I? Who do I want to be? How might I get there?
May you then find the courage to act on what you hear. May you be captivated by awe - because you are awesome - and may that sense of inspiration inspire you to move to a new place of hope, of understanding, and of clarity. May it be so.
Onwards and upwards
P.s. I’ll be sharing tools to reflect and review 2020 + set intentions for 2021 in the coming weeks. I’m also planning some more in depth sessions/workshops to help you create a more intentional start for 2021. If there’s any questions you’d like me to address, reply and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!