Solstice Reflections

The shortest day of the year, the longest night. 

I always feel as if I should mark the solstice in some way, but haven’t done so for the past couple of years. In years past, I’ve done 108 sun salutations, to honor the solstice, but I wasn’t prepared last year or this year for that physical effort. 

I have a curious relationship to rituals. I want them, sometimes, to be part of them for the community, but I also have trouble feeling connected to them in any real kind of way. I don’t know if that’s left over from the religious upbringing, or if I just find it hard to learn and adhere to all the details. 

Perhaps some part of me feels like we are too attached to our rituals; we become captive to them, expect them to fix things or let them inhibit us as well. We think that if we do all the right rituals, we’ll cleanse our lives, rid ourselves of our patterns, and somehow no longer feel our pain. If I just light this candle, cook this food, abstain from that food, our life will somehow be okay. 

Rituals, sometimes, seem like they are akin to New Year’s Resolutions and “challenges” that so often are forced on superficial and often harmful things like weight loss, extreme restriction diets, and other unrealistic goals that typically feed consumerism and don’t often leave us better than we were when we started. 

I’m not sure I have a place for major ritual in my life, now, or if it’s really more about the small things, the little things like daily walks, like writing in my journal, like the routine of making coffee in the morning and turning on my twinkle lights at night in the winter time. 

It’s difficult to make grand plans, difficult to know what to do to mark the passage of time when I do not seem to be in time, in rhythm, with those around me. Most of my life, I have felt on the outside of things, and somehow that was supposed to be sad but I wonder if the error, all this time, has simply been trying to get in, trying to make myself fit, trying to change my rhythm to suit that of others. 

Maybe I’ve always felt on the outside because I am, and maybe that’s actually okay. Maybe some of us need to be on the outside so we can see what it all really looks like. Maybe when we’re on the outside we can see a different shape, a perspective unavailable to those within, those who are comfortable and unaware. 

I spent so much time longing to be inside in places I don’t even want to go… perhaps that’s really what has been so freeing about leaving higher education, is that I’ve stopped trying to be something I’m not. 

I’ve quit. 

Quitting is always supposed to be a negative (unless we’re talking addictions), but quitting really can be our best, our only good option. Why try when it doesn’t make us happy? Why try and change to fit when we don’t even want to? When we don’t even value the same things as those we are trying to fit with? 

There really isn’t much point, and I wasted so much time trying, forcing, pushing my way in when there wasn’t any room for me, as I was. So why force it? Why not leave it, and just be who I am? 

There’s such a push to be able to declare who we are, what our purpose is, our dream… mine is always evolving, yet I am still steady, I am who I am, at my core. 

Perhaps for me the solstice isn’t about welcoming the light back, but it’s about thanking the darkness for the rest, for the challenge, and for the perspectives we see only when the world is in darkness, only when the blinding light of day is shortened, letting our eyes settle and refocus on the shape of reality, without being overwhelmed by the details.

Yes. Letting the dark show us the shape, without the overwhelm of the details. Let that be what I am grateful for this solstice. 

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