The invisible parts of our 2020

Hello there,

Life finds a way — with a little help from each other, we found the last few days of 2020. How is your heart doing at this moment, as we drift into the last of 2020 and the beginning of phase 3 in Singapore? I’d like to share this poem with you that brings a gentle reminder of balance:

“Heavy”, by Mary Oliver

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had His hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
“It is not the weight you carry

but how you carry it —
books, bricks, grief —
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled—
roses in the wind,
The sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

Over the last few weeks, this block in Dakota watched his neighbours shatter, collapse and disintegrate into rubble.

What are the invisible parts of your 2020 that you’d like to make visible?

The last few weeks of kids yoga classes had the Hopscotch children immersed in reflection on 2020 and vision planning for 2021. Instead of focusing on their academic and performance goals, I invited them to see and acknowledge their peers in the room. After reading and discussing the invisible boy together, the children gathered round in a circle and spent time acknowledging their friends who had smiled at them, who had worked hard, who made them feel safe, who tried their best in 2020 etc. They placed their palms on their friends’ shoulders with a “thank you” or “you did a great job!” Few rounds into this activity, the room erupted with giggles and laughter and lots of “thank you!” flying around. The circle was adorned with pairs of interlaced hands and fingers, a tapestry of the invisible care that carried us through the pain of 2020.

Post activity, they got busy seeding their own Gratitude lotus flower with their words of gratitude carefully written in the heart centre. They took time visioning the way they want to be with the people around them in 2021. Ways to let others feel loved, appreciated and respected.

I had an opportunity to reflect on my 2020 in this updated LITO episode with Dan and Becky. Recording with Dan and Becky is always a smashing good time — our flow melding like rivers into the oceans. We chatted about putting into (living) practice the 6 key themes I learned from my time in the Himalayas, here in the lion city in 2020. We spoke about sitting with discomfort and overwhelming emotions and thoughts, this one time I meditated my lao sai away on a long van ride and the creative process of birthing the photo journalbook, from self-doubt to declaration.

You might be familiar with the “fight, flight and freeze” stress response in times of any event, interaction or circumstance that was too much, too fast or too soon. Every other emotion gets swept under the rug when our body takes over to protect us from shocking and overwhelming experiences. We lose the mental and heart space to sift through the nuances in our feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.

Deep in the forest of 2020, there may be hidden sorrow, celebratory joy suppressed by our environment, abyss of disappointment, raging fires of frustration at the back of your being, quietly destroying from within.

I invite you to perhaps take time to allow some visibility to these emotions, thoughts and/or bodily sensations: an acknowledgement that this too, happened to, and for me. This may take the form of a walk in nature, expression of art in various forms, movement to music or your breath, or being in the loving presence of another. The possibilities are endless. Take time and space to discover what helps you reconnect with the invisible parts of your 2020, if you like.

For some of us, this might not be a safe moment to engage in this reflection. You may not want to attend to these feelings right now, and that is alright too. There are invisible pairs of hands who care; they are ready to carry you through 2021.

See you in 2021,