Thoughts on New Year's Day

As the year draws to a close it seems natural, at least for myself, to reflect on the year that has been and look ahead to the one to come. I’ve been thinking about what I want to hold on to and what I need to let go of — whether beliefs, or habits, or hobbies, or dreams. I realised a necessary pruning is in order, not just of the mind but also of the heart. 

While I am relentlessly eager to learn, I’m also learning that part of this pruning involves turning down the briskness of social media. But don’t get me wrong. There are people I follow on social media whose words and wisdom I value and appreciate, and I’m very grateful for endless opportunities to connect, engage and learn from. However, living in a constant state of hyper connectivity tends to rob me of the tranquility and ability to deeply focus on the task at hand.

This year I’ve learned, yet again, that when I try to do too many things at the same time or spread myself too thin, I do lose my capacity to commit fully to anyone or anything. When I try to move in too many directions all at the same time, I do end up going nowhere fast. Let me share an experience this year that once again taught me this very lesson. Back in September I attended a crash course on Modern Calligraphy and fell in love with written words once again. Consequently, I’ve read books I could get my hands on the subject — history of calligraphy, it’s development, etc., (thanks to Kensington Public Library) and learned about some other style of writing — from ancient scripts to Italian Hand, Spencerian, and many more but I was particularly drawn towards learning the Copperplate, which, in my humble opinion, is the most beautiful style of handwriting in the world. So in addition to learning Modern Calligraphy, I also started teaching myself Copperplate writing by simply following a guidebook. To top it off, I started drawing, sketching and even painting with watercolour — pretty much like what I did back in grade school — and I love it! While it’s very therapeutic (and fulfilling too!) to learn Modern Calligraphy and Copperplate, or to sketch, draw and paint, or do all types of arts and crafts, I realised that I was spreading myself too thin. I was trying to learn too many things at the same time and found myself nowhere near at being proficient in any thing I was trying to be exceptionally good at.

I’ve struggled with this in the face of conflicting advice. If you read any book, or article on writing and the art of social engagement, the advice is practically the same: create more involvement instead of less — take social media for instance — more posts, more tweets, more comments and acknowledgements, more following and more followers, etc. But sometimes doing less actually creates space for something more — more time for urgent matters, more meaning, greater depth, and deeper joy. As my recent experience taught me, I came to a realisation that when my involvement exceeds my capacity to stay focused on more crucial matters; when I spend more time learning all types of calligraphy writing; when I try managing my messages than engaging in a more meaningful conversation, a course rectification is in order. The seasonal act of cutting back and cutting out not only removes dead weight that no longer serves its purpose and robs me of my time, energy and other resources but creates space for healthy new growth, necessary to reach the place I am trying to go.

Perhaps the answer lies in my intention. The clearer I am on my goal and vision, the stronger my ability to let go of what no longer serves. The more intentional I am with my priorities, values, time, etc., the deeper my capacity to connect with God and others, not from a platform but from a more grounded place — a place that’s conducive to growth in my relationships anchored in genuine connection and renewed sense of purpose.

I know that are there other areas in my life that need pruning; I need to constantly filter out the noise of life to allow space for deep listening and conversing with the Lord and better connection with family and friends and other people that He brings into my life.

Last night I’ve read the story of Mary and Martha in the gospel record (Luke 10:38-42), and it’s the basis of my prayer not just for myself but for you all, my dear family and friends. This passage is a wonderful reminder to us all — to helps us set our priorities straight.

I wish you all a very blessed new year — one filled with peace, love, and joy.

*Featured Image (Calvin & Hobbs) from Pinterest