Lessons of 2017
by Jill Sockman
At the end of the year, I like to pause and look back at what transpired during the last journey around the sun. I want to review what I have learned – both what I need to take with me into the new year and what I should definitely leave behind. Self-reflection is always important, but somehow seems more pressing as the calendar turns over yet again.
1. I am wrong. A lot. It’s taken a while to come to this as I have spent a good part of my life suffering from “I-really-am-right-itis” which apparently I got from my father. Maybe it’s genetic. He was a man who took the notion of My Way or the Highway to unprecedented levels, so I suppose it’s not a surprise that the imperative to BE RIGHT was so firmly stamped upon my being. What has been most interesting about this lesson (with which the Universe has been beating me over the head for the past 12 months) is that instead of feeling defeated, I’ve discovered a profound freedom in not needing to be right, in not needing to know. I’m finding this new way of approaching problems, situations and interactions (with the clear understanding that I might have it completely wrong) incredibly liberating. No need to convince, control, set straight, have the answer… it’s huge. There’s so much less gripping and grasping when it’s okay to be wrong or to disagree. I am fully embracing the fact that more often than not I just don’t know. About much of anything.
2. I am not in control. And that’s okay. At least it’s more okay than it used to be. I understand that there is a vision greater and a current stronger than my own which is definitely guiding me along this crazy ride. I need to stop wildly waving my arms in a vain attempt to wield my limited powers to move things along. I am decidedly not in charge of the timeline either. My job, my challenge, my task is to lean back. Lean away from disturbance. Lean away from distraction. Sit in center and enjoy the ride. This tactic provides a significant improvement in well-being relative to my position as General Manager of the Universe and Director of the Flow of All Things.
P.S. Those positions are now available if you’re interested. I don’t know who is looking at resumes, but it’s not me. And if you’ve also been on the Universe’s Executive Team, resignation is much, much easier than you think.
3. Everything is going according to plan. This is an off-shoot of Lesson 2. While it’s been made exceptionally clear that it may not be MY plan, there is a plan. All of it – every step and misstep, every moment in the light, every moment in the darkness was and is necessary for me to get bigger, get smaller, get wiser, stronger, surer of myself, more self-sufficient, more reliant on others. I have quoted this Rumi line hundreds of times: “All evolves us.” And it does. Not just the parts we like, but every aspect of our journeys. We are being given the opportunities we need to learn what we came here to learn if only we will open our closed hands (and closed minds) and receive the gifts. Even when the medicine is bitter, it is being provided for our ultimate wholeness.
4. What I listen to matters. From what is piping into my headphones, to what I am reading, to the company I am keeping – there is a constant intake feed and its content is vitally important. Even more than that, I’m clearer than ever that I must be always listening for the one that whispers, and can only be heard in the stillness. The one that knows. The one that is, actually, always right. In order to consistently hear that guidance, more spaciousness and more quiet is needed. The compass, the guidance, is always there. But we cannot expect to hear it if we are spinning at 10,000RPM from the moment we open our eyes until we fall back into bed.
5. My value is not determined by how busy I am. I cannot sustainably do as much as I would like to do and I cannot do as much as I used to be able to do. This has been a hard one to swallow, as somewhere along the way I got the idea that productivity is the scale by which my worth is measured. But this is not the truth. I’ve come to see that my true worth is actually gauged by just how closely my life is aligned with my soul. The guidelines are simple. The soul is not in constant motion. The soul does not need recognition. The soul does not need approval, nor does it need to please everyone at all times. When I am all lit up, I can be sure I am in alignment. When I’m depleted, pushing, forcing, it’s a sign I’m moving in the wrong direction. Life as an expression of the soul – the essence of Self – versus life as the fulfillment of ideas and ideals set in place by expectation and ego. I am the only one who can be me, as you are the only one who can be you. Unapologetically, authentically living out the whole of who and what we were made to be is perhaps the great work of our lives. Filling our actions with more passion, with more love, with a more open heart than ever before. And allowing that to be enough.
I hope you’ll take a little time to scribble down what you’ve learned this year, what’s worth carrying into 2018 and what might be best put in the bin with the rest of 2017 wrappings. Ultimately, all we can know is ourselves, and the process of uncovering will take a lifetime.
Blessings and thanks,