John’s Closing thoughts on 2018
“For real hope, as distinguished from wishful thinking, we ought not look first to our technological cleverness or abstractions about progress of one kind or another, but rather to the extent and depth of our affections, which set boundaries on what we do and direct our intelligence to better or worse possibilities. The possibility of affection for our children, place, posterity, and life is in all of us. It is part of our evolutionary heritage. It is embedded in our best religious teachings” (David Orr).
The transformation from one year to the next brings both a letting go and a visioning forward. The visioning process for 2019 for me is a hopefulness for our positive growth as a community. I have to admit; there are times when optimism is a challenging endeavor for me. It is hard not to look around and not get caught in what can feel like an ocean of disconnection. I think in those moments it’s that everything and everyone is moving so fast. We all get immersed in technology that is supposed to lead us to connection, yet loneliness is on the rise. Wow, it takes a great deal of mindfulness and old fashioned human skill to be able to slow everything down and remember to connect with each other.
Every day I have to come back to the connection and intention I have in my own heart for the affection that David W. Orr calls our attention to (see epigraph). As yogis and yoginis, life tasks us with the challenge of healthfully embracing the present moment and practicing to keep open the necessary space to live heart forward. Life calls out for us to courageously step into the unfolding and unknown evolution of the moment.
As I sit and reflect on closing out 2018 so much comes to mind. It has been a fantastic year in many ways and for this I am thankful. However, I must heed the words of Orr and remember it is not about what I think about the various ways in which I have progressed. Instead, it is more about living the intention of deepening and exploring the true infinite depth of my own heart and becoming a more courageous lover. I believe that love and compassion truly are boundless and immeasurable. Holding open the heart, staying affectionate, and practicing love is the most challenging “asana” we are asked to express every day. Love challenges us because we are all confronted with so much uncertainty, unrest, and tragedy. In the face of these powerful forces, love is the way, and love as a path is not necessarily the one with least resistance. Rather, it is more like how Fred Rogers, of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, describes it. Mr. Rogers wrote that “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” I think that teaching, to love and accept each other as we are, is both a good intention and good medicine for us all as we step into the new year.
I invite you to live this intention. To love yourself unconditionally, and to love others as they are already, right here, right now. Yoga is a place and a practice to begin to strengthen these innate energies of the heart. I am so excited to journey into the new year. I look forward to seeing you in the 2019 on the mat and on retreat.
1. David W. Orr. Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect (Kindle Locations 77-80). Kindle Edition.
2. Rogers, Fred. The World According to Mister Rogers. Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.