So it’s Christmas.
Traditionally the season of goodwill, joy and peace to all mankind.
Our so-called festive season is a kind of madness. We’ve allowed it to degenerate into a frenzy of shopping and stress. We rush to the point of exhaustion so that we can relax and have a holiday.
I see so little joy about me, so little tranquility, and as for goodwill, it seems hard to muster when you’re in a queue half an hour long with a list of other tasks to accomplish.
The predominant feelings I detect about me are anxiety, dread, the build-up of nervous tension, and a sense of not having done ‘enough’.
This is the classic Faustian bargain. We seek rest but are so exhausted by the time the holiday arrives that we can’t enjoy it. The soul is sold in the pursuit, apparently, of something soulful. And for most of us Christmas has been exorcised of its spiritual remnants.
William Wordsworth, that poet of the Romantic era, had it spot on. And this was way before shopping malls:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; –
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
Let’s wake up
What’s important is compassion, not the acquisition and bestowing of even more material goods that we don’t need. What’s important is time – spent with loved ones, not shopping. What’s important is kindness.
Think how different our Christmas can be if we slow down.
Slow down and listen for five minutes to Alan Watts. If you haven’t been captivated by his mesmerisingly resonant voice before, listen now. For five minutes. His wisdom penetrates to the heart of our problem.
The Year of Enough
I’m going to make 2014 my Year of Enough. I’m going to consciously cultivate a mindset that emphasises abundance and gratitude – the antitheses to our obsession with getting more, earning more and doing more. This will help me think differently and choose my daily activities differently. It will bring more tranquility and satisfaction into my life.
I’m beginning with a kickstart challenge devised by Therese Schwenkler, creator of theunlost.com. There’ll be 23 online speakers and 23 daily challenges beginning in the New Year. You can sign up at yearofenough.com.