As a resident of Singapore, I’m typically at the front of the wave of people ushering in the New year thanks to its eastern location. This year on New Year’s eve, I am in the West Coast of California, which has a whopping 16 hour time difference. It feels strange to begin receiving Happy New Year messages while anticipating the midnight hour which is still several hours away.
It makes me think about a line from my book, Rewriting My Happily Ever After – A memoir of divorce and discovery – On the surface, all may seem calm, but things move forward exactly as they should, in tandem with an unseen natural rhythm.
Making peace with my pace
As an independent author with a first book, I learned a lot this year – about creativity, about craft and also about making my book available and accessible to readers. At times, it was frustrating to see other authors reach great heights and I wondered if I was doing things wrong. When using the standard metrics of numbers of copies sold or followers on social media, I find myself falling far behind.
Yet, almost everyday I heard back from readers who sent me personal messages about how they had enjoyed reading my book and found resonance. And that’s when I realised that not everything explodes instantly like fireworks. So much of life happens at a different pace. It may seem slow in this age of instant gratification but that’s precisely the point.
Just as there’s room for fast food and slow cooking, fast-spreading weeds and slow growing bamboo, early bloomers and late successes, there’s a time and place for things to come to fruition. We are each unique, programmed differently and perhaps the most difficult lesson of all is to find out pace and make peace with it.
Sometimes you need a hard reminder
Even as I rejoiced in the publication of my first full-length book, I was faced with a health crisis. From being an ‘always on’ achiever focused on the next thing, I went to being restricted to my room during the last quarter of 2021.
As a generally healthy person, I took this personally. How could I simply ‘rest? The doctors were confounded by my pain which didn’t seem to have a clear physical cause. The alternative medicine people said my chi was unbalanced. The healers said my energy was low. For a few weeks I left home only for treatment. I just didn’t feel good.
One day when the pain miraculously disappeared, I was left scratching my head. Where had this pain come from and where did it go? The answer probably lies in the connection between body and mind. It had not been easy to write a book about the topic of divorce, the most painful experiences of my life. But I had powered through with my mental strength. My body however had not kept pace and had finally decided to declare a hard stop.
Has this ever happened to you?
For me it was a first. Like most awesome (or awful) things that you experience for the first time, it was a major ‘aha’ moment.
I learned that I need to be more kind to my body. To give it due respect. To include it in my plans for the future. To more consciously integrate a harmonious mind-body approach to life.
What now for 2022?
As I see multiple ‘year in review’ posts, I am tempted to post one myself. I have done a year-end review but it seems like a report card. What I would like is to mine that review and find the gems hidden below the surface, the nuggets of wisdom embedded in not just the accomplishments but also in the missteps.
I believe that our detours and disappointment hold the key to those lessons we need to learn, more than our outward measures of success.
My wish for 2022 is to honor the journey thus far by remembering the lessons of 2021. There will be new adventures in the new year that will leave behind new memories and new lessons.
Instead of listing new initiatives and setting targets, I hope to do the following:
- Be gentle with my body
- Be kind to others
- Be thoughtful with my writing
- Be generous with compliments
- Be aware of the precious days that make up a year
Like I wrote in my book, there is a natural rhythm to our life that we are usually not aware of. Things will unfold in due course. That is what I need to remember more than anything.
What are you planning for 2022?