Approaching a New Year

Photo by BoliviaInteligente on Unsplash

It’s the day after Christmas. I have to be honest, when we aren’t with our children and grandchildren, we don’t really do Christmas. I wrote and my wife went to work in the nursing home so that younger workers could be home with their families. And, we’re okay with that. Besides, the day doesn’t hold any religious meaning for either of us. Saturnalia is probably more up our alley – a festival of light. And yes, we have lights on for this time of seasonal darkness.

New Year’s Eve is different for us. We don’t go out to parties however. Our age encourages us to celebrate at an earlier hour, usually with neighbours who are just as old as we are.

New Year’s is supposed to be a transition point from old to new. In our home we mark this transition with a ritual where we take down our Christmas tree and put away all the decorations and trappings that we had put up a number of weeks earlier. 

The idea is to welcome the New Year with a clean slate rather drag the detritus of the old year forward, the old saying, “Let auld acquaintance be forgot,” comes to mind. It’s a good concept, but it is just that, a concept. The real world barrels along dragging all the “shit” it has stirred up forward with hyper enthusiasm and exaggerated fears. 

There really is no time to slow down, take a cleansing breath before moving forward with a clear head. That’s where and when I turn to meditation. And, as much as we want to shut out the news stories that continue to assault us, we are afraid to do so in case we miss something critical for our very survival.

The words below were written in 1994, in the revised edition of a textbook of sorts for understanding Jungian psychology. As I reread these words this morning, I realised that not much has changed in the world. In fact, if anything, the pace and intensity of the assault on our minds, and unintentionally our souls, has increased.

“Secrets almost never exist for long; they bombard the psyche constantly with the opinions and advice and the hard sell. Whether the subject matter is a commercial product, a political position or a social activist’s plea, our minds are the ready targets and our pocketbooks the ultimate goal.”

June Singer, Boundaries of the Soul, p. 3

So, what had prompted me to pick up this old, dusty tome from my bookshelf? It was the word SOUL that was highlighted by size. I wasn’t even particularly looking for any book, especially not such a substantial book. Since I leave home in a matter of days, en route to a village in Mexico, I was looking for a much smaller book. 

Everything that I will take with me has to fit into my 40 Litre backpack. Weight and space are at a premium. I went to put the book back on my shelf but stopped long enough to open the book. I caught the scent of old book dust and sneezed.

That was enough to have me take the book to my desk and begin reading. And, as usual, I discovered gold hiding. I won’t be taking the book with me, but at least I know that it will still be hear when I return in three months’ time.

Now, it is time to get back to final decisions regarding the contents of my backpack in preparation for the next journey. Happy New Year!

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