If you didn't throw confetti yourself last night, I hope you saw others throw it. Did you notice the joy they had when they were making a mess, not focused on the inevitable cleanup? Not afraid or concerned with the future consequences of their moment of joy?
Any parent knows the risk of letting their child play with glitter (or, as I like to call it: confetti on steroids). You can't get that shit out. It gets everywhere.
But if you've ever watched a child play with glitter or make a mess with flour, you've seen why the experience can be worth it.
The joy of freedom. Of being unrestricted. Of being fully present. Of letting go of fears and embracing the now. The joy that comes from the twin purposes of destruction and creation. It's the joy of hope. From mess and chaos, comes the new. From pain, comes strength and wisdom.
Last night's New Year's Eve party is over. Champagne has been toasted. Kisses exchanged. Resolutions made to "be a better person” (whatever that means). Confetti has been thrown.
2016 is over. Like any year, it was one of joy, satisfaction, and hope for many. For others, it was one of disappointment, sadness, and fear. Having been an election year, these experiences were amplified. For some, their joy comes from the satisfaction that “their” candidate “won” and that they felt heard. That they felt validated. For others, their fear comes from the known and unknown realities of the future. From the pain of their voices not being heard, once again. From the unsafety and isolation of their lived experience.
2016 is not what divided so many of us into “others.” The othering has been happening for a long time. Perhaps, always. 2016 amplified our differences (AND our similarities). It shone a big spotlight on what divides and unites us: hope and fear.
We all do both. Some choose one more often than the other. Some believe one more often than the other. Some are more afraid of one more often than the other. Some give more power to one more often than the other.
Hope and fear both serve a purpose. Being afraid is what leads us to hope. Hope is what leads us out of fear. We need both (We need hope more). And both need our kindness.
As we face the hope and fear of the new year, the knowns and the unknowns of what is to come, the joy and despair of what tomorrow brings, it’s easy to want to escape and retreat from the pain we may be experiencing, especially from others who represent that pain.
I understand the need to deactivate. Whether from social media relationships or real life relationships. In times of trauma, this is often necessary and recommended to restore one’s energy, to support healing, and to protect oneself from further hurt. I am pulled myself toward avoiding “others.” Pulled between pushing “them” as far away from me as possible so as to “other” them from me even more AND drawing them closer and showering them with compassion and empathy and understanding and gentleness and kindness and slowness and forgiveness so that maybe they will shower ME with more of these same gifts…and so that maybe we can together move out of a place of division and fear into one of unity and harmony and hope.
The difficulty is that, sometimes, because of their previous hurts and pain, others may not allow us to draw them closer. Sometimes, our efforts may be experienced as suspicious and not to be trusted, just as we may grow suspicious and untrusting of their efforts when we feel hurt. What we may perceive as kindness, others may perceive quite differently. Sometimes, the best way we can offer others compassion and understanding is by respecting their need to remain distant. Respecting the distance may be the only way they may be able to receive our kindness. As much as this distance may hurt, providing ourselves with kindness may be how we cope with the loss and may be how we are then able to provide more kindness to others.
So, throw it all around. Not the small pieces of colored paper (well, that too!).
Throw the kindness all around. In whatever form it needs to take shape.
Throw it all over others. Friends. Family. Acquaintances. Strangers. But make sure to get plenty on yourself.
Let it seep into all your crevices. Your body’s wrinkles. Your body’s cellulite. Let it seep into your memories. Your hurts. Your traumas. Your fears. Let it seep into your hopes. Your relationships. Your interactions with others.
Let it get everywhere.
Make a mess with it. Throw it up and around without abandon.
Make noise while you throw it. Be loud.
Be kind by being you. This will enable you to be kinder to others.
Be kind by embracing ALL of you. This will enable you to embrace more of others.
Be kind by being gentle with you. This will enable you to be more gentle with others.
Throw kindness all around.