Ditching High Expectations

jenkner barn dusk

The last two weeks have been crammed with significant dates: Winter Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas (and all the sacred celebrations of religions other than Christianity), New Year’s Eve and, tomorrow, New Year’s Day.

A few years ago, in response to my disgruntlement with the commercial aspects of Christmas, I wiped the slate clean on all of these holidays.

I chucked all cultural, religious, and familial expectations about what each of these dates means, or should mean, for me.

I pitched all traditional celebrations of them, including everything that I had ever done to celebrate them.

I started from scratch and charged myself with the responsibility of discerning for myself what each of these passages means for me, literally, symbolically, and spiritually.

I clarified how I personally wanted to celebrate them, in keeping with what they meant to me. I created rituals to mark the passage of each of them in a way that has deep personal meaning for me.

Several interesting things happened as I opted out of all the traditional expectations and celebrations.

One thing was that I didn’t miss the celebrations. I felt cleansed. Over years and years, layers and layers of Shoulds and Oughts had accumulated around these holidays. These were things that I just accepted, unquestioningly, and things that I did every year, just because I had always done them.

I was largely unconscious of the weight that I felt about these obligations and commitments, many of which I had never chosen consciously. They had just accumulated incrementally over the years.

I was scrubbed clean. The energies of delight, mystery, and awe flowed again. There was a fresh innocence that I felt again during this time of year.

Another thing that happened was that I no longer had any expectations for any particular outcome for any of these dates. While each of them held meaning for me, I didn’t count on them being exciting or life-changing in any way. This was very freeing.

The last thing that happened was probably the most significant, for me. I realized that while these dates do have personal significance and meaning for me, they are also “just” another date on the calendar. Every day is a miracle, if we choose to live that way.

Every day is a threshold and a passage, and every day is an opportunity to live with meaning and celebration. It doesn’t take a traditional date for this to be the case. It already is.

How can we live as if each day is a miracle?









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