This year, as a community, we find ourselves struggling to adapt to all manner of challenges. Beyond the typical test of having to, through necessity, keep up our regular schedules of work, toil and being active in the world, contrary to the vibe of the season – we are also faced with a stark and increasingly regressive and hostile global political context; with fear, division and anxiety as a constant secretion shaping our perspectives and realities. Keep on moving on for many of us is our strategy for coping – our default. But the call to slow down and find the light in winter, to cultivate new hope and a new mode of being for the year ahead is a vital rhythm we could all do with attuning to.

In recent years I have attempted to set some intention to observe and mirror the qualities of winter – to try and embody the posture and stillness required to cast off the patterns and energy of seasons previous for a better, more nourished me for the year ahead. I’m usually not very successful – and this winter has been no exception – thrown about by the circumstances, shifts and heavy changes of 2016, stillness has been a hard thing to find. Although the call for retreat has been strong and I find myself in these closing weeks finding that bit of space I need to breathe. To take stock. To know what I want more of in the year ahead. In that spirit, I hope everyone manages to take what time you have left of these darker days to nurture what you wish to bring into the New Year with you – and conversely, what you would like to leave behind.

As is the need to understand that the true vehicle of revolution is the heart; that utopia is not a private garden but a communal one.

The political climate at the moment is stark and the collective impetus is to rally hard in protest against a rising tide of fascistic ideology. History shows us that the struggle is real and necessary. As is the need to understand that the true vehicle of revolution is the heart; that utopia is not a private garden but a communal one.

 

To realise that garden and to occupy it together will involve more than waving placards side by side, hardly able to hold each others gaze in opposition to an encroaching ‘other’ – but about recognizing the destructive potential in all of us, seeing how trauma and a deficit of love are the seeds of greed and violence and working with those wounds in our own small circles to reverberate change outwards from our communities.

In that sense, to help shift the trajectory to peace and equilibrium becomes a principle of ecology: how do we fit into the spaces and communities we inhabit? What is our function and how do we honour that function? What human qualities can we invoke and practice that become the lubricant and fertilizer of those systems? How do we decentralize our notions of self, not in a self-depreciating or shameful way, but to fully honour our contribution as the social mycelium of the earth?

How do we decentralize our notions of self, not in a self-depreciating or shameful way, but to fully honour our contribution as the social mycelium of the earth?

To embody that role means to walk unabashed and empowered in the qualities and strengths that are uniquely ours and to be attuned to what we need to feel supported so as to be engaged, proactive and strong.  It also means to be keenly aware of and sensitive to others – to recognise your friend, a loved one, an estranged family member… even an enemy, as also a node in this mycelial web. To take care of people. To be kind. To heal.

Which becomes also a question of availability and presence – how present are you? How is the quality of our presence affected by our coffee toting, sugar laden, hyper-adrenalised culture? How does the constant itch of our devices and notifications effect the quality of our real world relationships – indeed, all of our addictions that aid alienation over awareness, dissonance over feeling, facade over vulnerability, indulgence over charity and service?

For me this winter I have learned a great deal about the sometimes hectic nature of my life – the lack of fulfillment I feel in the speed of it: in the distractions, in the lack of real, available human community. How this gives rise to fractiousness, to chaos, to disconnection and ultimately, to not being fully present and responsible for my part in a wider ecology beyond the self.

To all my colleagues, clients, connections, lovers and relations – I wish for you a year of pace, of small moments and of little details. I encourage more presence, more sensitivity and availability; more fires, more guitars, more songs and more giant pans of soup. See you there.

 

Darren @ AlchemyFlow.