On this solstice, I am musing on a conversation I had recently with my very close friend on the phone. Against the backdrop of sound interruptions: our headphones, text notifications and the shuffle and clanging of kitchen noise as we both tried to prepare breakfast together, she tells me of a discussion she just had with her latest dating partner.
They are fairly new at the dating, and were dipping into the subject of how things were going between them. What she brought to me was his tentative confession that he felt she is a "bit hard to get to know".
I have known her for over 2 decades - we have grown up together in our common spiritual path, and also have held hands in our parallel medical professions. So she wanted to get my view. In her own opinion, if anyone knows her well, it's me. But now she wanted to check out the truth about her ability to be known by others more directly and intimately.
We bantered for awhile and tried to keep our cell signal steady. Eventually we had to bookmark it and get on with our busy mornings (Hmmm).
Also recently, nearly everyone I have had contact with tells me a version of: "there's TOO MUCH going on!...I can't catch up...or finish anything...I can't remember/keep track of everything anymore..." OR "I can't handle any more news...or information...or dealing with people..."
It sounds to me like a moment to stop and take stock. I hear it in myself as well. The next reactions can go either way: speed up, do more, strain to keep going...or, stop completely, hide under the covers, hunker down and shut it all off.
And simultaneously - the little messages come. In my world, they come all day long in my clinic, from things patients tell me from their lives. And, from any signs I hear in the bigger picture - the universe that is - of the stars and planets circling overhead and in the environment around us - in nature and in our communities.
Here we are at the solstice for example. It is a time when there's a "stand still"of sorts. But it's also literally a Turning Point. The sun appears to stand still in the sky - and it is also for me like a pivot point - a pause.
It's the shortest day of the year - perhaps giving us a tad extra time to look at our "stuff".
A chance to pause inside ourselves. To assess. To take review of our inner and outer world.
Some of us already make quiet time, or meditate (or wish we did, knowing we "should"). And some of us have never trusted that stopping for just one deeper breath is going to help us - especially when we really need to. We keep going.
I've written before about how Winter can be either daunting or a relief from the hurried bright time of warm weather and movement. And over the years, I hear it in others as we approach the seasonal shifting. I HATE Winter. I don't like the darkness and shorter days. I can't STAND being cold.
And, occasionally: I LOVE snow...cold air...and staying inside with a good book near the fireplace.
I have had both attitudes at various times myself. I want relief from the heat, the cozy of the book and fireplace scenario. And, I have hardened up and felt a rigid dread for the literal cold of it all.
But here's the Yin and Yang of it. We need both. We need to have one nestled inside the other. Even in the peak of the summer months, we need to stop and cool down. And, here on the brink of (maybe) a cold season, we need to move around - inside and outside ourselves to see what needs to be seen or known.
Somehow, this keeps me thinking about my friend's question about closeness. How "close in" do we let others get? How close in are we willing to be with ourselves?
Getting closer in has the spirit of stopping or at least pausing. As when we are on the phone trying to hear someone, understand their words in the midst of noise and movement. Or when we open our device to do one thing and 10 other things grab our attention.
I thought of her and how her life looks from my angle. It's active, busy, moving and full of her (self-professed) built-in craving for planning adventures, large and small.
"Moving target" came to mind. I have known her for so long and in so many life phases. A smaller portion of her time has been for slow, resting or quiet mode. (granted, she's an emergency physician, so there's that.) And now, as life has asked her to have a look, she shares with me her own wondering about how to make sure the balance for this gets addressed. And how this plays out in her wish to be "better known"...more deeply and directly.
Both of us have wrestled with it, as surely many of you have. My version of medicine requires me to stop and slow down. I can't hear or feel someone's needs unless I stop long anough to listen to them.
And personally I can't hear myself until I stop the moving around - physically and mentally. The noise of the regular, ordinary life pace keeps a filtered and almost barrier-like block to being really IN - meaning Here and Present.
I told her in our next chat that I had had this insight image about 'Moving Targets'. And that for me, she often appears as such. But since I DO know her relatively well, I also am aware of her deeper intention to really BE with people. To listen to them. She cares about who they are and what they need. And, she has a commitment to being close in with herself and what her needs are. Me too. Me. Too.
How do we each bridge this gap in intimacy - with other people and also with ourselves?
It's very much spoken about but do we really want it? And if we do, do we actually make the time to create the opportunity? (hint: it isn't going to happen without our effort - culture, society, other people, circumstances - are always going to be asking us for our time and our attention)
What if, on this winter solstice 2021, we could think a moment about taking some moments to check this out honestly and deliberately?
Consider: Am I continuing to chase moving targets (projects, relationships, tasks, goals)? Am I internally avoiding - or obsessed - with moving targets inside myself (emotions, feelings, health worries)?
Am I easy to be with, easy to get to know?
Do I know, right now, deep down, what I really want and need as I go forward?
I dunno bout you, but these past many months have given me PLENTY to consider. How much 'slow down/pause' was in our life before the pandemic made it happen - on any level? Did we even allow the pandemic to slow us down? If we did, how did that go for us? Were we miserably trying to do more - accomplish all those things we always thought we would do IF we had the time?
Or, did we collapse and become idle, frozen, inert, unfocused, unmotivated and in an unending "give up" frame of mind? (Yes, I did. Both happened)
I see it as a good outer and inner metaphor for exploration and discovery.
My experience with this can be a mixture. When I find that I have not allowed much or any time to be quiet or slower, I can feel sad, frustrated and sometimes bewildered about it.
Where or to What are we rushing to? With Who, and How, do we really stop and listen?
If we don't know the quiet and peace of our own mind and understand the driving and creative aspects of the way we move in our lives, what's the point of all this?
Where are we going in such a hurry? What (and Who) will be there when we stop moving around?
Welcome to the folding inward of Winter season.
I'm with ya.
May we all cherish the moments to Pause, to feel the Peace that is ready and waiting to be found within.
May we bring that to the points of intersections with others - to be seen, known and heard more deeply on all levels of the relationship.
From that basis, may we move onward with Purpose and Joy for the Journey to come.
Holding my heart peacefully still...for all you moving targets out there.