Years That Ask Questions and Years That Answer

Ah, yes, a happy new year — a fresh beginning, a set of resolutions, a word-of-the-year, a reset/renew, a detox, a turning of the page. Only, for me, not this round.

Don’t get me wrong: I still did my little hippie productivity yearly planner, I still set up my little time-keeping/scheduling system, I have goals and desires and things I’d like to accomplish. But in 2015, I’m cutting myself some slack.

Not that I’m pooh-poohing anyone who’s embarking on a type-A super-planning kind of thing in terms of setting up their new year. There are some years that call for that — years where time is malleable, putty in your hands, able to be molded and filled with whatever your endeavor. Where intention and action align with ease, and everything on your to-do list seems to expand and move you to growth.

I think of these as kind of “Athenian” years — you know, after the Greek goddess of wisdom, the great war strategist and city-builder and patroness of craftspeople, the great grey-eyed lady of discernment and skilled action. These are years that weave threads into fabric, fabric into useful shapes and garments — years that build, solidify, consolidate.

But then there are other kinds of years. To keep with the Greek goddess groove (bear with me here, I’m feeling Jungian!), perhaps you could call some years “Persephone” years — years of walking in shadow, treading the underworld, confronting fears, anxieties, sadness and unresolved wounds and griefs.

(Of course, you can expand this whole metaphor towards the entire mythological pantheon — I’ve definitely had my Artemisian years of trawling the psychological wilderness in a glorious solitude, as well as those super-fun, glamorous Aphrodite years of romance, good times and carousing!)

Looking back at my 2014, though, I realized a lot of my angst was wanting to have an Athenian year so badly, but being immersed in a huge Persephone kind of year. Beyond the actual specifics of the circumstances and events, underneath I was grappling with a sense of disappointment and failure that my intentions were so derailed. I still did a lot of what I wanted, but I also was so overwhelmed with stress, anxiety and fear that I couldn’t savor any accomplishment or experience very much. It kind of sucked. There’s no use knocking off items on your bucket list or to-do list or whatever if the experience of them is so clouded and polluted with negative emotions.

So for 2015, yes, I still have intentions and goals and such, but I’m holding onto them lightly. Already, looking ahead, I can see huge mountains to scale on the path. The big changes set into motion last year are still unfolding, and even bigger ones are coming — ones whose outcomes and tranformations I can’t predict in the least. In the face of such challenges, I think all I can do is be present as possible, be kind and gentle to myself and others around me and have as much fun and joy as I can. I think that’s just the perfect amount of enough to begin my New Year.

Zora Neale Hurston actually has one of my favorite quotes about years, and it’s one that gives the title to this post:

There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.

Whatever year you desire, I hope yours is off to a beautiful start!

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