I hope your landing in 2022 has been gentle. I had hoped to spend a few days outside the city last week to clear my thoughts and gain some vision for the year after such a rapid season, but the weather had other plans. Instead, I booked a room here in downtown Seattle. I immediately struggled with how to “start relaxing” and spent the first few hours aimless and anxious, before trying to channel my frenzy into dinner plans. Did I want to drive, or walk somewhere, or have something delivered to avoid covid? An hour went by without landing on a decision before I realized I wasn’t even hungry. Not that kind of hungry. This hunger had nothing to do with food, but something else entirely. This hunger came from a desire to escape the constant restrictions and disconnection of the pandemic.
It can be hard to find inspiration if every corner we turn is a reminder of how not normal it all is. When I first moved to Seattle, I used to pause on the street and look into the grand storefronts and old buildings and wonder about the person who dreamt them into existence. I want those leaps of imagination now more than ever. I want to be reminded that things can endure. A large portion of buildings downtown and many street-level spaces are vacant or boarded up. Many more sit empty, filled with heaping piles of what used to be, their tangles of old ventilation and wire spilling across the floor. Each time I feel the urge to look away as though I’ve just seen someone’s insides. Everything feels fragile. So many unfair losses.
I think we forget that transformation is brutal work. And that transformation can be involuntarily thrust upon us just as it can be something we seek.
We love to revel in those “before & after” reveals, but that messy and painful process in between often goes unseen or doesn’t hold our attention. That space between is often a reminder of our fragility and loss, or the unanswered questions we constantly carry. It can be frightening to occupy that space, where you don’t know or maybe can’t yet imagine where or who’ll you’ll be at the end of things. I feel that fear a little bit now. So far “chance” has not been a very good fellow collaborator in my opinion. Like that one person in the group project who doesn’t hold up their end of things.
This year I struggled with burnout, grief, and anxiety. Sustaining myself and a business in a pandemic is constant re-invention, re-imagination, construction, and deconstruction. These pandemic surges have felt exhausting and relentless in their asking of us to conform and transform in never-ending cycles. So, how do we calculate upon the unforeseen? How do we find inspiration, comfort, normalcy, or joy nearly 3 years into this thing?
Each year in lieu of a resolution I choose a word to carry around as a question and a guidepost. What is the story I’m telling myself vs what do I actually need to observe, feel and do more of this year? I chose the word TRUST for 2022. Derived from the old Norse word traust, adapted from traustr: meaning ‘strong’. In other forms, it means protection, confidence, to be solid. And so, the task of carrying this word through the year will partially include the task of going inward to solidify and strengthen myself. To make sure I’m a good collaborator, should the opportunity come.
Emerson reminds us to “make our own bibles, to gather our own psalms and songs of being with which to find our footing. Gather those fragments that have shaken and sustained your spirit.”
What are those fragments that you can gather? Music, books, friendship, movement, and food are some of mine. We often think of routine as mundane, but I would argue that right now, routine is sacred ritual and a way of sustaining our mind and spirit. This month I’m going inward with myself and the business. I’m taking some time to gather my psalms and songs so to speak. My plan is to focus on forming and strengthening our processes and procedures, and the ways we can support one another through this new year. The latest surge has put much into flux for our little team, but with any luck, we hope to safely gather together next week to connect and expand our scent knowledge and give ourselves time to play before diving back into our regular schedule. Things will be messy for a while. For now, we try our best to indulge in the small rituals and routines that sustain our spirit. We remain hopeful that those essential mysteries will indeed reveal more. We balance fear and possibility.
Onward dear one. You've got this!
Fragments to shake / and sustain the spirit: