I had a conversation recently about how we have too much choice now and an unquenchable need for more: more flavours of food; more TV programs; more music; more experience; more deodorant smells; more books; more information. I seem to want to cram more and more into an already short time of space that I have. The thing is human beings get bored too easily, more and more I’m thinking the thing is to not get bored. I should be content with salt and vinegar crisps (ten years ago this was my favourite flavour out of a possible five, no more do I eat Salt and Vinegar because well there might be a better flavour now); to watch a tv program as a whole without the need to be checking my phone (the TV program is enough of a focus for my mind); be content to really listen to a whole album several times to understand it (Spotify you offer me limitless music but more music doesn’t necessarily mean better music, let me listen to whole albums again to understand the entirety of what the musician made instead of flicking between hundreds and hundreds of tracks that make no sense in isolation); to know that to live in whatever capacity is to experience, that cotton fresh is a fresh enough smell for any deodorant. I will read exactly what I’m supposed to read and that will be enough. I could go and live in a cave as a recluse for five years and emerge and read the BBC news website and nothing will have changed. At a fundamental level the same terrible things will be happening in the world, there will be the ever same narrative of human greed, wars, evil, mindless destruction and yet there too will be tales of love, mind-boggling discovery, bravery and human endeavour. More information does not mean more wisdom. I want to contain myself as I could easily expand and unravel into more and more choices and an endless array of options to satisfy my boredom and need for new.
I set out to write a post about how my word for the new year is unfolding which suggests a discovery of new options which goes against everything that has just been written. Yet Im wanting to unfold what I already am and have, to unfold into my true self. To rediscover my strength, to unfold myself and my wings into new opportunities but for that to be based on what I know already. As I was writing this post, I read this quote and Rilke (as ever) said exactly what I mean…
I’ve been reading lots of different things lately. I sometimes wonder if you are meant to read certain things at certain points in your life, the words you read shaping your thought and direction. I’ve really been enjoying the words of Sara Maitland in ‘A Book of Silence’ as she charts her quest to find and live in silence and solitude. So far her conclusions seem to be that silence is far from empty but full and meaningful, with layers to decipher, that silence somehow allowed her to arrive at a part of herself otherwise hidden.
‘This is hard; one has only to try and quieten one’s mind or body to discover just how turbulent they are. But gradually I discovered a shape for each day and the silence took over’.
‘To settle into the silence and somehow lower my own expectations- to plan, scheme, rule, manage the days as little as possible. To experience, sense, live, be as much as possible’.
It has made me think about how I want to take the time to work out what is at the core of me. To unfold into what is truly important to and for me. It is this idea of introspection, to get to the nuts and bolts of how I work, the unfolding of the layers of myself that I want for this year. To work out what my focus should be and where the next step will take me and to be willing to take it with conviction. To reduce the complexity of life to the core essence that is at the heart of the matter. To limit the pointless and fathomless choices to the key ones that count. By unfolding, I suppose I might mean a filtering of what is important and what is not important for me so that I can live my truth.
I started the whole one word to guide the year idea in 2014 when it was ‘burgeoning’ and for 2015 it was ‘galvanise’. Almost as if we were to imagine that there was some kind of omnipotent narrator telling the stories of our lives then this would direct the tone in which they’d use to tell the words of this year. It is living the year in an intended way, the word providing the impetus and shaping how it might be. For 2016 then, unfolding in all the ways that it can mean.