I know it might sound a bit discouraging to share this, but the only part of the holiday season I truly enjoy is this limbo week leading into the New Year. Part of me wishes this week were declared an international holiday. As I reflect, I remember the years when taking time off was not a financial option for me. I had to work, both out of necessity and a sense of obligation. For many years, I taught classes every single holiday. It’s been a journey to reach where I am today, where I can sit down, relax, enjoy the holidays, and most importantly, connect with you, whoever you are on the other side.
One of the most insightful books I read this year, which I’ve been sharing with my students at The Warrior Flow School, is “The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change” by Pauline Ross. It resonated with me deeply, just like the well-known work on the stages of grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in “On Death and Dying.” Kübler-Ross’s model, though famous, was later something she reflected on with some regret due to its rigid interpretation. This isn’t surprising; we all crave a sense of order and predictability in life.
Yet, life (and death) can be messy, often far from linear.
Pauline Ross’s book brings a fresh perspective to grief, introducing the concept of ambiguity. It suggests that our feelings don’t have to be fixed or singular; they can be complex and layered. This idea initially unsettled me, but then it offered comfort. I realized I had been trying to fit my grief into a pre-defined mold.
But let’s broaden the scope beyond grief. The festive season can be a challenging time, whether it’s in stark contrast to the general mood or because it reminds us of absent loved ones. Life’s major events, including traumatic or distressing ones, defy simple categorization. They are multifaceted, challenging our need for order and clarity.
In drawing parallels between grief and traumatic events, I find that the less I try to label experiences, the more freedom I discover. This brings me back to the concept of ambiguity. Can you be both happy and sad during this time of the year? Absolutely. I am, and I’m at peace with that. I’ve let go of the expectation to process everything in a predictable, orderly manner.
Another concept I ponder during this time of the year is impermanence – the understanding that everything is in a constant state of change. We can’t stop the holidays any more than we can stop our feelings from evolving. Embracing this impermanence means accepting that our reactions and emotions might not always make sense from a conventional standpoint.
I believe that the more we understand there’s no ‘default setting’ in our emotional software, and the more we accept that we define our parameters as we go, the freer we are to experience life as it unfolds. This mindset liberates us from the constraints of our conditioning and societal expectations.
This blog might be the strangest you’ll read this holiday season, but that’s okay. I’m not here to sell a program or ask for anything in return. Instead, I invite you to join me in embracing life’s non-linearity, its layered meanings, and the opportunity to continually evolve into something more real, more authentic, more in tune with ourselves and, consequently, with the world.