The holidays can be so messy. Despite our best intentions, they often evoke a whole slew of unanticipated emotions. Long held resentments gather steam, heated words are exchanged, eyes rolled. Or, conversely, we find ourselves alone, scrolling through social media, bereft at our perceived lack of family, connections, friends. We may find ourselves lusting after things we would otherwise not —spouses, children, homes, vacations—the things of status. Or despondent over their delayed manifestation.
In short, we’re confronted with ourselves and our circumstances, and it isn’t always tinsel and pie.
One of the very first things I learned on my journey is this: It’s ok to not be ok with the way your life looks. It’s ok to be dissatisfied. And it’s also ok not to know what you want. It’s what we do with the feeling that matters. It’s where we allow it to take us and what we learn from the experience.
The truth is, we can never depart from a station we’ve never arrived at, right? We need to acknowledge our feelings, our experience, the spaces between. Otherwise, it festers, causing more hurt and pain.
Throughout my spiritual awakening, I’ve been torn between the gentle coaxing and vulnerability of emotional unfolding and the brazen, defiant determination of decisive action, but what I have come to understand is that life is a balance between the two. Sometimes life requires quiet self-reflection and sometimes it requires bold responses.
The holidays, I think, are for the former—at least most of the time. If we are honest with ourselves and willing to risk discomfort, we can observe, without judgment, the state of things, we can consciously take stock of our lives.
This is where meditation and prayer comes in. I have read that if prayer is about asking, meditation is about listening. But I think they’re intertwined. After all, aren’t they symbiotic?
Which is why at night, before bed, I often offer this up to the Universe: Please show me—in a way that I can clearly understand—where I am meant to go, what my next step is. Please guide me towards fulfillment. And then, I wait for the answers.
Sometimes they come immediately, but mostly they reveal themselves in unexpected moments.
It may seem simple, almost too simple, but I have found this practice to be life changing, especially at my most confused, lost moments, and especially during the holidays.
So if you find yourself this Thanksgiving far from where you thought you would be, take heart. This too, will pass, and if you continue to dig deep and ask the bigger questions, life will open up. It will shift.
And that, if nothing else, is worth being grateful for.