..all I want for Christmas..
…so I was contemplating whether and how to share where I am for Christmas-time this year. In my wonderings happened on this article in The Guardian about those spending Christmas alone.
I am in my 15th month of my project of exploring eco-villages and in my 5th month in Colombia. I have been diving into community after community volunteering, sharing, working hard, learning, listening, offering… and to be honest I’m absolutely exhausted! I have loved most communities that I have spent time in, and some were deeply challenging experiences. Most recently I have spent time with a gorgeous small community near Armenia (Colombia) and I spent some time with a friend and his family in the mountains outside of Medellín. I have been so warmly welcomed into these homes and I cherished it. I felt like part of the family and filled with gratitude and awe at the continuous warmth of Colombian people. I was warmly welcomed to stay with my friends family for Christmas and I knew they meant it, but I chose, a few days before Christmas, to ‘move on’ and to spend Christmas in a little hotel, in the little town of Jardín, Antioquia, alone.
AND I have, in the last few days been struggling with my decision. I have written many times in my blogs about this balance that is needed in our lives, between time in connection with others and time alone i.e. time in connection with ourselves. I have been struggling, I realise, with a story that we have in society: that I am a loser if I am alone. I don’t say this lightly: there are times when I blindly believe this! And I have found myself on occasion in the last few days beating myself up for being a ‘loser’ and for not being wanted this Christmas. Hmmm. But I sat with this, this morning in a little meditation and I felt very clearly that this is simply not true. I am so far from being a loser! And instead of choosing to believe this voice and this story of not being good enough I realise that I can CHOOSE my decision to be alone. Because the truth is that I LOVE my time to myself. I LOVE being alone in nature. I LOVE time alone to write and read and to PAINT. Right now I am staying in a hotel room. It’s a room all to myself!! This is a HUGE treat for me, it is the first time in all of my months of travel that I have splashed out and booked a whole room to myself with an en-suite, hot water, a TV and breakfast provided!! Its utter luxury for me, and its just a simple budget hotel. I don’t need this level of ‘luxury’ all the time but for right now it’s a treat. I enjoyed being alone last night to watch movies while eating chocolate covered almonds …all for myself ☺ It was just gorgeous!
AND I cherish being in connection with other humans and with different communities: sharing meals, sharing conversations, working together, working on the land, building together, walking together, learning together: the laughter, the stories, the jokes, learning about life in different parts of the world: its absolutely heart-opening and inspiring!! I enjoy both and can enjoy both and I am only a loser if I let the weight of this STORY become some sort of warped ‘truth’.
This is my first Christmas alone… its not like Christmas with my family, its not Christmas in community. I am sitting in my hotel room and I can hear the traffic outside in the streets of Jardín and the sound of a young man gardening outside, people walking by, the local church bell chiming every 15mins, Cumbia music, the odd firework… life goes on and I am not feeling distracted or with the need to distract, I don’t feel lonely, I feel deeply relaxed and calm and happy to have space to myself. I am aware of a part of me that tells me that I should be with someone for Christmas and the truth is that I could. I could go and seek out locals or other tourists to share my time with, and maybe I will at some stage… but I would rather be happy alone than compromise myself to be with people when its not what I actually want or need.
I realise that my choice to be alone is genuinely not a reflection on you, it is not a reflection on whether I like or dislike anyone and it is certainly not a reflection of my status as loser or otherwise in society. My choice to be alone reflects my need to nurture myself, to connect with who I am and with my own inner ‘community’. This is as vital for me as quiet time in nature and time painting and writing. This time alone is a time for reflection for dreaming for listening.
So I’m going to ask you something for today: have you taken some time for yourself this Christmas, to really listen to how you are, however it might be? I know that I have felt deep sadness in the last few days, but its OK I’ve discovered its justified sadness: I have felt deeply sad at the sheer amount of wasteful consumption that takes place over Christmas, and the increasing amount of plastic that is mounting up on our oceans and land.. what is going to become of it and all of us?! With this energy of sadness, I listened and found underneath it my deep love and passion for this earth and my desire and my resolve to dedicate my life to protecting life. And this is more passion now that supports this journey and my journey in life. It’s AMAZING what you can hear in your silences, beneath and within your sadness anger, boredom, joy; whatever may life there.
In these few days over Christmas I choose to bathe in this precious gift of time alone. I know there will be many more Christmases with family and friends and I truly feel that I will have many more Christmases in Colombia (YEAH!!) And I truly hope that I can be as present with my friends and family in the future as I am to myself right now.
Take care of yourself this Christmas. Find some space to be alone. If you are up North, wrap up warm and spend a little time in nature. If you are alone and are not feeling comfortable with it, light a candle and sit with it in silence for a while. Fire is fantastic company… And I fully respect and acknowledge that there are many people who are alone this Christmas and it is not what they want and they are truly feeling isolated. Do by all means reach out to those in your community who are alone: but from one, who is alone and happy to be so, do honour this possibility by asking someone what it is they wish for rather than presuming that they need company. “…It’s important to remember that lacking company is not a character fault and does not necessarily lead to misery.”
From my place of quiet and happy contemplation I’m wishing you all a very happy Christmas-time!