“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
On my morning walk this Easter weekend I looked up and saw a grandly decorated tree in someone’s living room. I had to step back and look again just to make sure I didn’t have Covid delusional madness!
The image stayed in my mind for the last few days as a metaphor for the world we have temporarily left behind – the Christmas tree, a symbol of connection representing a time with family and friends sharing time, food and perhaps too many glasses of wine. This Easter – another time to connect- none of this was possible as we stayed home isolating ourselves to protect our world.
I wondered if the tree was dusty and abandoned since last Christmas waiting sadly for the next one. Or perhaps a hopeful soul recently decorated it, planning ahead casting their mind to a better future. Or perhaps it was a quirky response to Easter being ‘cancelled’ hoping Christmas and what it represents comes soon.
This beautifully decorated tree, out of place, out of time, is like a relic from the past, a hope for the future or a salve for the difficult times we are in. A harkening to a time that represents joy and connection.
Talking to my clients in the last few weeks what I hear most is anxiety about the future, a feeling of being overwhelmed in the present and confused and uncertain about what the future holds. There is a longing for the ‘old days’ when a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a coffee or wine together was something we took for granted.
Psychologically we know being mindfully in the present is the key to well-being. We also know connection physically and emotionally is what grounds us. Covid 19 is challenging us to be present in a very difficult time. Perhaps it will teach us to sit, pause, breathe and trust that out of this extreme uncertainty will come a new spring.
Much of our emotional pain comes from living in the future with anxiety or magical thinking or living in the past with nostalgia or regret. The present, particularly now in our world, is ever changing, frightening and painful for most. Our challenge is to take the Christmas tree down and trust we can be here right now without running forward to a future we are fantasising about.
Christmas is a time of pain for many people because it fails to match our anticipation – something we may have felt momentarily as children. We hang on to that magic and for me as a psychologist it can be the loneliest time of year for my clients. I am sure that is why I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness when I saw that out of place Christmas tree – we can just stay present with no need to rush forward to the future.
The Christmas tree reminds me it is time to live in the present, with curiosity and openness about the choices we can make to create a future that doesn’t need so many magic fairy lights – just more compassion, caring, connecting and joy.
Right here, right now the moment is all we have, in it lies everything we need.