Just a short post this week, I’m afraid, as I have quite a lot on, work-wise. So it’s more a little wondering on a topic that’s been on my mind…
A couple of weeks ago I talked about the impulse to save things and the damaging effect this can have when it comes to saving ideas or holding back in your creative practice.
In writing that post I realised that there is another impulse, closely linked to the impulse to save and to hold in, and that’s the impulse to give. Much in the same way that we might censor ourselves by not acting on the desire to create something, we can also hold ourselves back by not giving enough outwards. It feels like the saving and the giving are two sides of the same coin. That when the natural rhythm of the year comes back towards winter and we instinctively begin to gather inwards, to hibernate, that’s also when we can tend to shut ourselves off from other people.
I find it happens to me surreptitiously at this time of year; with all the busy-ness of the approaching festive season I’m often seeing people or doing things and it feels like I’m being sociable. But, I’m not really connecting with people; it’s all business-as-usual, matter-of-fact type of work. If anything, it can sometimes feel like asking someone for a bit of their time, to sit and chat, to refresh your creativity or to share things, is a bit of an imposition. Isn’t everyone too busy at the moment? Likewise, when people ask you to do things, the knee-jerk reaction can be to say ‘I’m sorry I’m too busy’. But this reticence to reach out, or reluctance to respond, means that despite all the activity, we often feel more disconnected at this time of year.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s not a difficult time, and that people aren’t busy or stretched. But, I do think it’s important to remember just how nourishing it can be to spend time with other people when it’s nothing to do with work, or family, or Christmas. And, how we can occupy that role for other people – how we can give to others, to support them. I know that I get so focused on all the things I have to do, my massive to-do list, that I can forget to ask other people how they are doing, to ask if there’s anything I can do that might be useful for them. This season I’d like to be more mindful of doing that – of asking others if there’s anything I can do for them, and to trust that the impulse to hold myself in, to close myself off, will be replaced with something much better for my mental health – connection.
On a slightly related note – do take a listen to the first episode of the new season of the Hurry Slowly podcast “Don’t underestimate the power of appreciation”. It’s all about generosity and connection.