Happy New Year, Good People! I hope 2023 started well for you as it did for me. Before moving forward with this year’s plan, I’d like to take stock of the past year by revisiting my going deeper, not wider exercise in 2022, and also share lessons relearned.
When I settled for my word depth, last year, I did not know just how deep I’d end up going. And it was certainly not the kind of depth I had in mind. If you’re a regular reader of this blog or have read my recent collection, The Sheltering, you know those details already. At the risk of repeating myself, here are a few lessons I relearned last year:
Self-awareness has been the biggest lesson. I realised that creating space and time often to connect with myself is the greatest act of self-love. Because it means I allow myself to sit with my emotions, seek my truth or listen to answers already within me, appreciate and accept all of me, and be enough.
“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve.”
I fully agree with Brian Jacques’ quote above. But I’ll say this: even real and personal experiences can feel performative and jarring on social media. I had written a whole post about reasons I won’t grieve in public. But it needed to be more than a blog post. Anyway, I find private rituals as equally important in processing grief.
Making my art no matter what
If you are an artist, you need to make your art. That’s not an overstatement—it’s a fact; if you stop doing your creative work, your quality of life is diminished.” Beth Pickens
Some still ask what is the point of poetry. Well, I’m not here to convince you about the purpose of writing poetry. I know what it does for me. Last year, I was in overdrive dealing with a number of things that were very taxing emotionally and mentally. I leaned heavily into poetry during those desperately times. The opposite would have been a black hole. I’m not sure if I’d have been able to climb out of it without making art. By the way, the book pictured below is another great book for art makers.
Being my own support system
I’ve also learnt that when someone tells me I am strong, lucky or whatever double-edge sword word they use, they are actually saying I cannot rely on them for emotional support. But they expect that support from me. So, being my own support system has meant continuing to remove all the people and things that bring me down. I can tell you, I’m already feeling less resentful.
Social support system
Someone once said, when you are buried deep under the rubble, you don’t care about the colour of the hand that pulls you out. It turned out to be my chosen family (my friends) who offered me greatest support in my time of need. Also acquaintances whom I would have never thought of reaching out to, surprised and touched me with their generosity. This is to say, authentic friendships are important in one’s life.
Being a better listener
I’ve written before about how I pride myself on being a good listener, of both what is said and unsaid. I had recommended this book before, You’re Not listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters, because I find it to be very informative. Anyway, I still fall short when it comes to active listening. There are times I could have done better but I just didn’t have the bandwidth.
Depth, itself, is a deep word. It turned out that my going deep had nothing to do with creative and professional goals, even though I did achieve some. Rather, my year of depth had everything to do with the depth of human character, reassessing relationships and personal growth.
PS. In the next post, publishing on Sunday, 22nd Jan, I’ll share my word for 2023, what I’m moving away from and towards.