Last year, I created a hashtag that I referenced in a lot of my personal social media – #RiseIn2017. I created meaning for it within myself over the course of the year and used it to hold myself accountable to my goals and plans for the year. I also allowed it to be a reminder that things would not always go the way I expected them to, but I must continue to rise past it and push forward, to become the person that I needed to be for myself and those around me.
When I wrote my first post, Goodnight 2016, I was sitting on the spare bed at my grandmother’s house in Victoria. I wrote from a place of reflection – analysing what I had experienced in 2016 and what I wanted to achieve in the new year. At the end, I wrote a bio for myself as of December 2017 and what I wanted my life to be. By writing this bio, I concreted in my own mind who I wanted to be and what I wanted to achieve, and I’m very glad I did because a lot of it came to be! I did end up moving to Melbourne and studying further. I did lose the 15kg that I wanted to (admittedly, I’ve put some of it back on again, whoops!) and I have begun to build my financial position to one that will grant me a lot more freedom in the future. There were a few things that came up along the way that I didn’t expect too, like my deeper involvement in the Salesforce world and finding my niche in the broad IT industry. However, there were some things that weren’t so pleasant that I did not plan for 2017. My beautiful puppy of over 11 years passed away in October, and it threw my mind into a darker place than I’ve ever found myself before.
I’ve been following Shay Carl’s family vlogs on YouTube for years, and this Christmas was the first in a long time that they did not publish a video. You see, in February of 2017 Shay suffered a relapse of his alcoholism and made a personal decision to focus on rehabilitation and stay away from the internet for the foreseeable future after years of being a public figure. Recently, his wife Colette posted her first video in a long time and she said some things that resonated with me.
She talks about a section of a book called Codependent No More by Melody Beattie that talks about accepting the things that are. The reality of the world around us. We may or may not have control over these things, but this is the way things are. Colette points out that we need to learn to accept difficult realities and push past denial so that we can stand confidently in our own truth and receive freedom within ourselves, and this line struck a chord for me:
“Sometimes, in order to accept what is, we have to allow a dream to die.”
I have dreams that I hold onto so tightly to the point that they begin to burn a metaphorical hole in my chest. There are things that I have been fighting so hard for even though I knew nothing would ever happen. My problem is I will completely ignore the signs and continue holding on, giving more, and sacrificing myself for the dreams that will never come to fruition.
In 2017, I think my greatest lesson was to learn that I can’t control everything around me and that I need to learn to simply accept what is. Not only is everything as it should be, but it is as it must necessarily be. At the beginning of the year, I wanted to wrap my arms around everything in my life and make it the way I wanted it to be. However, toward the end of this year, I’ve learned that letting go of everything and allowing reality to be as it is and must be grants greater peace than I’ve ever known in my life. I won’t go into too much detail on causal determinism in this post, but it’s something I strongly recommend you read up on.
In summary, my 2018 will be a continuation of my current journey; the only difference being that I am taking my first steps into the new year with a new perspective – I will make an effort to learn the difference between the things I should be trying to control, and the things that I need to let go of and allow reality to proceed as it must. I have decided to let go of things that I’ve held onto for years – I have let go of anger towards those who I felt wronged me in the past and made amends, I have let go of some traditional thinking that was holding me back in life, and I have let go of a dream that I held closely and thought the outcome was entirely in my hands. I have made the decision within myself to accept 2018 however it comes and be at peace throughout it, peace which will hopefully overflow and make an impact on those I come into contact with.
I leave you with a traditional Taoist parable that got me thinking when I first heard it a few months back.
Who Knows What is Good and What is Bad?
When an old farmer’s stallion wins a prize at a country show, his neighbour calls round to congratulate him, but the old farmer says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”
The next day, some thieves come and steal his valuable animal. His neighbour comes to commiserate with him, but the old man replies, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”
A few days pass and the spirited stallion escapes from the thieves and joins a herd of wild mares, leading them back to the farm. The neighbour calls to share the farmer’s joy, but the farmer says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”
The following day, while trying to break in one of the mares, the farmer’s son is thrown and fractures his leg. The neighbour calls to share the farmer’s sorrow, but the old man’s attitude remains the same as before.
The following week the army passes by, forcibly conscripting soldiers for the war, but they do not take the farmer’s son because he cannot walk. The neighbour thinks to himself, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”