Well, here we are and it is definitely, definitively the holiday season. Already. Thanksgiving has come and gone, last week was the first week of Advent, Hannukkah starts on Thursday and both longest-night and Christmas are approaching fast on the calendar. As I was writing some holiday cards with my wife I had to stop and ask her "didn't we just do this last week?"
For me, and I am sure for many of you, the holiday season has snuck up on us fast this year. I guess with the strange times there is the cognitive dissonance of feeling both that so much has happened this year and that we haven't really done anything!
Of course, none of this should be a surprise. The calendar has been there all the time, and the clock has ticked at the same rate. But for me the illusion of time has been that December has come really quickly. Probably for some of you it has been the opposite - that the wait for the end of the year has been interminable. As the great Douglas Adams said, "Time is an illusion - lunchtime doubly so."
I am always a little ambivalent about the holidays. There is much I like and enjoy, but I also find that the pressure and materialism can be difficult. I have been fortunate to always have had good family and friends to share with, but I know that many haven't had this luxury and for them this can be an especially hard time of the year. And for all of us this year will be extra challenging, with friends and loved ones missing or distant.
However it has been for you I hope that the arrival of the holiday season can bring you some joy. I have always made a point of using the start of the holidays as a time to remind myself of the importance of Metta - 'lovingkindness' or 'goodwill'.
With everything that is going on we would all agree that this time would be better for us all, more joyful for us all, if everyone had more lovingkindness in their heart and practiced this with every interaction. But - and you know what I am going to say here - the only person I can change is myself. The only person you can change is yourself. And that is why we do the practice.
Wishing you all to be well and happy this holiday season,
PS: I have linked below a fully guided Metta Bhavana (cultivation of lovingkindness) meditation, and you are welcome to use that if you find it helpful. If you are not familiar with the form this would be a good one to start with. A few of us have committed to press 'play' at 7pm PT on Sunday December 6th, you are welcome to join us if you wish.
If the above player doesn't work for you please click here.