With Christmas Day and a few quiet days after the company has gone home behind us, we are now gearing up (or perhaps down) for New Year’s Eve. I have never much liked New Year’s Eve, or rather the celebrations that go with the evening. I have always found that by the time New Year’s Eve comes along I cannot bear the thought of getting dressed up in clothes, that feel tighter than they had a week previous and mingling amongst another spread of festive food and drink. Instead I long to pass a quiet evening away in front of a fire trying to pretend that the end of a season I look forward to is not passing away. This year as I prepare to host friends and family on New Year’s Day I am wondering why it is I don’t like to join in on the festivities on December 31st.
Perhaps it is because I have always set the holiday season up as a battleground in my mind. When I say battle I am referring to the war raging inside of my head as I struggle with deciding what holiday food and treats to indulge in and which I should abstain from, in order to not gain weight, (or in other words, change my appearance) It has taken me a long time to realize that the holiday season need not be thought of as the enemy. This year I found that I was able to indulge without the usual guilt and shame which usually results after eating some of my Mom’s delicious baking or indulging in several nights of cocktails and wine. I am not positive what changed this year but I bet it has something to do with a change in perspective that comes with age or perhaps maturity. In a Wayne Dyer book I was reading recently, I think perhaps I found part of the answer to this change in attitude.
The chapter was adressing an issue about who we think we are. The author posed a question to the reader; ‘who are you?’ For many of us, including me, our first response is a physical description of ourselves. In my case big, tall and blonde would be in the first sentence of my description, no doubt. After that I would probably include statements about my work, my various roles in my family, my hobbies, etc. but most of my description of myself would in fact be about the physical me. But does that really answer the question? Dyer asks the reader to consider all the physical bodies that we have occupied up to this moment.
Initially we were all in bodies usually somewhere between 5-10lbs. Who were we then? Very soon after we began to occupy a toddler body which did not include the original cells that we had in our baby body. From there we moved through a child’s body, a pre-adolescent body, adolescent, teen, young adult, adult, parent and perhaps grandparent’s body. The body that I now occupy is still able to do many of the things these other bodies did but I am not those bodies.
The point is, that if I choose to focus so much on my body and what it used to be last year, 5, 10 or even more years ago, who do I think I am? It seems obvious that if I obsess and try to hang onto the body that I had when I was thinner, younger or fitter then I must believe that I am simply my body. But I know that is not true, the “I” that I am, is the ‘presence’ that exists in me no matter what body I am occupying. I am still the same I, that I was when I was young only in in a body that is different than the previous ones I occupied. What I am realizing is that “I” am still me no matter what shape or age body I happen to be dwelling in at the moment so why would I spend another moment being so self-conscious of my physical appearance?
If I choose to reject or hate the body I am in and place too much emphasis on the physical me is that just my way of avoiding acknowledging the real ‘I’? Phew, this is complicated stuff but I think I am beginning to understand how unimportant my physical appearance really is. Sure it is a way for people to recognize me easily and for me to be able to identify with the process of growing and aging but short of that it really is ‘just a vehicle for my soul.’ So, somedays I ride around in an SUV and some days I am a luxury sedan and others I am a pick up truck, but whatever the vehicle, it is still the real ‘me’ riding around inside.
So, back to the ill feelings I have about New Year’s Eve. Perhaps, I can stop focussing on the food and drink being the enemy because it changes my body and how I feel about it, and take a new look at this. I am going to think of the holiday season more like a long road trip, and that by New Year’s Eve I am ready to get out of the car and just enjoy not moving for an evening. I am going to allow myself time to reflect on the piece of journey that has been completed while looking forward to what is to come.