Here we are at the end of 2023 and on the cusp of a brand-new year with all the usual turning of the year rituals...gathering, celebrating, reflecting, resolving, setting intentions, selecting a word-of-the-year, and considering what we want to let go of and what we want to call in. Despite the fact that time is a human construct and there are not clear and clean lines in the passage of our days as the calendar might lead us to believe, there is still much value in these rituals of acknowledging the change of seasons as winter encourages rest and reflection in preparation for a spring of planting and new growth.
This year I'm considering the concept that "Every experience is compostable." What if even the toughest of years are ones that can go on the compost pile of life and eventually contribute to the rich, fertile soil in which new life and growth can flourish? Maybe not this spring, but some day.
There's a common image that has been circulating in recent New Year's of the old year in a sack of stinky garbage and headed to the dump. I confess that there have been recent years when I've been tempted to see the previous 12 months as mostly trash. When I do this, however, I buy into the belief that somehow it's my fault and if only I could have been better or done better then somehow the pile of trash would be less large and less stinky.
This year I'm realizing anew that I'm simply not that powerful. I'm not always as responsible as I think I am for the tough things that come my way. Sometimes shit happens and there are many factors that contribute to the tough seasons, but by and large, it's not my fault. Tough seasons are indicators that I'm a human being...or that I'm quite literally being human. I make mistakes; people I love make mistakes; random strangers I don't even know make mistakes. Those mistakes have real life consequences and those mistakes always make sense from within the larger context of my life experiences, brain chemistry, family background, cultural conditioning, and internal wiring.
What if I could see all my mistakes as stepping stones to more of the growth, freedom, understanding, and depth of character that I long for? Maybe my experiences can be put on the compost pile of my life and, when raked together with time, understanding, forgiveness, self-compassion, and distance, I'll discover the fertile soil that has been being developed in my heart along the way.
I am grateful to look back at previous years and experiences that I once viewed as a waste of time and full bags of trash to be carried to the landfill and recognize them today as the scraps that have been cooked down by the sun of time, winds of patience, and rain of my tears into a rich loam that is ready for planting.
Sure, there's still a pile of compost that's waiting to be turned, but today I see a few heaps of beautiful dirt from my life that are ripe for new seeds of hope, life, and growth in 2024.
How about you? How have your challenging life experiences been composted into the beginnings of a new and beautiful garden that you couldn't have imagined? And if you're in a season now that feels dark and cold and you can't imagine anything desirable coming from it, be gentle and patient as you wait in the dark and cold. And know that you're not alone.
This Extrovert's Attempt to Use My Words to Make Sense of My Life