12/31/2016 moves seamlessly into 1/1/2017. And if we didn’t mark the change in years, we’d barely notice the difference. Yet the calendar DOES change, and the march of years is as important for us emotionally as it is for most financial reckonings.
In the northern hemisphere, Autumn–with its dwindling light and advancing cold –signals an emotional retreat. Our animal natures wish to hunker down, to sleep more—to rest. Winter is a time of introspection. The days following the solstice and the week between the frenzy of Christmas and the celebration of New Year’s Eve provide us with an opportunity to move more slowly, to take stock of where we are in our lives and to notice what we’d like to change.
Of course we can do this daily—review as the sun sinks below the horizon and resolve to create anew when the sun rises. But there’s a greater impetus at the end of the year. And—at least for me—there’s a greater urgency to do so because the weather itself hinders me from carrying on as usual.
I begin to feel stagnant. This leads to discontent, which leads to a desire to make substantive changes. Thus are born the myriad New Year’s resolutions that are sometimes abandoned when the days grow longer and warmer. Judging by the regular increase in gym memberships and attendance in yoga classes in January, I’m not alone in this endeavor to be “better.”
This year, however, I did things a bit differently. I allowed myself to sink into a mini-depression. I allowed myself to “sleep in” until 7 or 8 each morning. I kept self recrimination and epithets of “lazy” and “worthless” to a minimum. I even allowed myself a few moments—days even—of enjoying a slower pace and lack of productivity.
According to GuruMehr Khalsa, author of Senses of the Soul, depression demands that we stop. We haven’t enough energy to do otherwise. Within the cessation of activity, we meet ourselves long enough to SEE the bits of our lives that are creating dis-satisfaction. We take inventory and set a new course.
The thing I’m discovering is that the new course isn’t substantially different from the old course, other than it’s more focused and less tolerant of distractions. The other thing I’m noticing is that, because I gave myself time to rest, I don’t have to think about my “resolutions.” Instead, what I feel is that there’s an intention embedded in my nervous system. A GPS system has been installed and is directing my course—a course that I have energy to follow instinctively and without question.
This year, my depression has given me the gift of a spontaneous January reboot, and it’s very, very sweet.