Though I have my own tradition of post-Christmas meltdowns, I think it’s a rather universal thing. There’s even a name for it: Blue Monday – that day in January when all the excitement of the holidays has worn of, the bills have started to come in, and months of Winter darkness have taken their toll. But I think there’s something else too.
The madness of December, an annual anomaly: your regular life left in stasis for a while. The trouble comes in January when you pick up your life again after been separated from it for a while. It gives you some perspective, and that perspective is sometimes disconcerting. When you’ve stepped away from the busy daily grind and can actually look at your life, there’s often a moment of: What the hell? This isn’t what I wanted for myself, this isn’t what I wanted to be doing.
Even sans the four hour crying jag that often follows the burn-out and exhaustion I feel from running the gauntlet of the festive season (cheers for thousands of units of vitamin D, making my Winter suck just a little less this year), January inevitably is a time of taking stock and trying to refocus my life. This year, as per tradition, I don’t like where I’m at. I seem to always be busy surviving and managing crises and all I hope and dream for my life gets shunted to the sidelined.
It’s been a particularly rough Fall/Winter for me, and coming into January, looking at my life, I feel overwhelmed with all the ways it’s gone wrong, all the things I’ve lost out on, failed to do. It hasn’t been a happy time in my brain so far this year, it’s been busy churning with all my troubles and how to fix them, how to pull at the threads of this rat’s nest and untangle the chaos and get some flow back in my life. A lot of problems to solve, and seemingly no way to solve them. A shitty headspace to be in.
Then, in an effort to get back into adding to these Tao Te Ching posts, I read chapter 16, and Bam! my whole perspective shifts.
If you don’t realize the source,
You stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
…Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you
Suddenly I realize, I don’t have many problems, I’ve got one problem. I no longer feel grounded or connected. Of the many things I’ve lost since the Fall, the habits that sustain my peace of mind are among them.
Such a relief! It’s simple, I only have one problem, and one thing to do right now, get back into some spiritual routine. Sitting every day, getting out for walks in the sunshine and the trees. It was actually weeks ago I’d read this chapter, but got derailed by the horrible death-flu and couldn’t write about it at the time. And certainly trying to pick up these habits again amid flu and post-flu insomnia has been a challenge, but I’ve found even when I can get a couple of days of this in a row, I’m more relaxed, more optimistic, more able to roll with the troubles that come my way, and more likely to suddenly be okay with things I thought were troubles in the first place. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao I’m no longer overwhelmed and can deal with whatever life brings me.
So if January is sucking so hard it blows for you too, like the post for chapter 15, maybe it isn’t all the things you need to do to fix your life, maybe it’s more the things you need to not-do. The time out, the stepping back, putting whatever routines ground and centre you on the TOP of your things to do list. Getting settled, seeing clear, maybe your troubles aren’t so overwhelming after all.