As the last strains of carols wafted through my home late in the evening on Christmas Day, I scanned the room enjoying the decorations, the lights sparkling on the balcony and the glowing tree. Though it was a solo celebration, it had been a serene, joyful and satiating Christmas.
Not to be defeated by a pandemic and all the irksome aspects that entails, I’d created a proper binge of traditional dishes, champagne, wine, nuts, Japanese mandarins and favourite cookies. As I considered the physical and mental energy required to do it up properly, I was glad that I didn’t have to mount it up again. It was done.
Instead, I could happily return to simpler fare, dial back the sugar load and coast along grazing from a well-stocked fridge.
Oddly enough, as wonderful as Christmas (my favourite time of year) is, I was also looking forward to putting it back in the box.
Having spent the last four months living in a heightened state of mindfulness, I note that there are parallels to Christmas. I note many positives: improved perception, greater efficiency, as well as more serenity and beauty in any mundane task.
However, more than that I put a greater value on small things that carry great significance. Prior to this mindfulness experiment I blew off the hundreds and thousands of minuscule moments as insignificant and irrelevant.
But living in a state of intense awareness for an extended period, like a drawn out seasonal celebration, also has a saturation point. Just as I didn’t expect to have more time to fill as the result of a mindfulness practice, I also didn’t expect to be bored by an overload of wonder.
The first cup of coffee sipped with total concentration or the first glimpse of Mars moving across my west window seemed miraculous marvels. The fifth or tenth not so much. And while I accepted that surprising insight without self-reproach, it didn’t feel like success.
Rumi wrote: Every moment contains a hundred messages from God.
As poetry, that’s poignant. But one hundred messages—even from God—is too much information. Divine spam. My default impulse is to click delete. Swipe left. Wonder palls, becomes ordinary and it’s all too easy to find it blasé. I confess, I hadn’t expected that.
Will I end the mindfulness experiment? No. Not entirely. Not yet. There’s merit in paying more attention, in being more open to the wonder in the mundane, in seeing things anew. But I realize there’s also an appropriate time to put Christmas back in the box.
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