It’s the last week of 2017.
The presents have been unwrapped. The holiday treats have been enjoyed, the leftovers wrapped up and put away. The anticipatory spirit of the season has faded all in a rush, like air let out of a balloon.
A new kind of anticipation takes its place: the knowledge that soon, life will resume its normal cadence. Soon, but not yet. Not quite yet. In this rare week that is book-ended by major holidays (even if not everyone observes them, we all feel the cultural impact in one way or another), I’m reminded of the place between breaths. We have exhaled the passing of one such holiday — and with it, perhaps, said most of our good-byes to the old year, as well — but have not yet drawn breath to greet the other, the New Year and all its accompanying hopes, uncertainties and aspirations.
For me, this week has always had a quality of strangeness to it. It feels like a mixture of let-down, relief, gratitude, fatigue, introspection and inertia all rolled into one. Part of me wants to sleep in and watch Netflix and nibble on leftovers as long as I can. Another part wants to plan and prepare and take advantage of the quiet week to get a leg up on my work. Still another wants to journal and reflect and set intentions for the coming year without making any concrete decisions just yet.
Underlying all of this is a sense of pressure to “use this time well.”
I think many of us feel similarly at this particular time of year. It’s easy to become conflicted by our desire to be simultaneously extra lazy and extra motivated, and even easier to beat ourselves up for failing to meet certain self-imposed standards of productivity. I confess I berated myself a little bit this morning when I decided it was more fun to browse post-Christmas sales online than work on a new article.
But even as I write these words now, it occurs to me that the feelings and urges I described above don’t have to be in conflict with each other. I can hold space for all of them. I can allow room for all of them. I can attend to my needs and the needs of my work and give myself permission to acquiesce to the strangeness of this in-between state. Perhaps that is what it means to use this time well.
If you find yourself feeling similarly, here are a few questions you can ask yourself this week to find your own way of holding space:
- What do I need right now?
- What do my work and my relationships need right now?
- What am I feeling right now, and how can I honor that?
- How can I acquiesce to the strangeness of this in-between week?
2017 has been a weird, wild and occasionally wonderful year. May you use its final week well, whatever that means to you.
Photo by Nicolas Tissot