winter solstice reflections
December reflection season is here. For some reason it’s always been one of my favorite times of year, this moment of reflection in which everyone has agreed to partake. End-of-year reading lists, favorite movies, summaries. Perhaps it’s that this part of the cycle is where we all give ourselves express permission to slow down, look inwards, and ask ourselves: “what the hell happened here?”
One way I’m particularly grateful for this year’s reflection season is learning just how much 2023 collectively kicked our asses. For a long while, I thought it was just me. There is so much that unraveled over the course of this year, relationally, professionally, spiritually, for me. And while I don’t need anyone else to have gone through their own shit to feel that mine is real, it sure helps to speculate that what we go through is not just individual but collective, systemic, tides that no one of us controls or perceives on our own.
Collective processing is an important ritual. I think we’re pretty good at celebrating together. Birthdays, relationship milestones, housing transitions, career wins. We go to dinner, throw parties, invite friends to travel with us, bring our communities together.
What I’d like to see more of is collective processing that honors the shadow side — grief, pain, loss. I’m thinking about the way folks came together when I lost my job, my grandmother, my front two teeth in the span of a week. It was more a festival than anything else. The way my friend’s company rearranged their entire office space after losing two team members in a boating accident. The gatherings via we will dance with mountains that allowed us to share and dance with heavy feelings about military warfare, genocide, and oppression.
I think I can be difficult to be around, sometimes. Always talking about grief. Insistent we bring what’s in the shadow into the light. It’s been more pronounced this year, since my shadow has carried so much. But more than anything, I find the experience of difficulty in life to be beautiful. It’s not a burden, but proof that when life is abundant, it’s precious. I want nothing more than to feel the full range, and to do it together. It gets much easier when you do it together.
A few friends are throwing a big experiential gathering this evening, in honor of the winter solstice. I’ve been really excited to participate and co-create with them. But as the day has approached, I’m realizing that what I need more than anything is yet another moment of collective processing.
The winter solstice has always been a moment of turning inwards. The shortest day of the year, sunwise. If you have the chance, light a candle for yourself today. Have a conversation about your year, give yourself a moment of reflection. Invite folks to gather and ritualize this darkness. It will only be here for so long.