This year, I decided to join in a new kind of blog activity for me, the “One Word” community at Lisa Notes. As far as I can tell, this involves choosing one word to engage with during the year, mindfully following it as a thread through life’s ups and downs and distractions. Once a month Lisa posts a linkup for sharing how the word is speaking to us or moving in our lives. (Many involved in the project express this as a Christian prayer discipline, language that I am comfortable with, but I think it would be possible to practice without any religious terminology.)
I chose the word CONNECT. Through most of my life, disconnecting from situations or people or ideas that felt threatening, confusing or overwhelming to me has been my main coping mechanism. If something became difficult or scary, whether in the outer world or in myself, I turned away or shut down. But I’ve started to see how that limits my life experience and leaves me feeling truncated and unfinished. Disconnection can indeed be necessary for certain times and certain reasons, but I think I tend to overdo it. I want to look at ways that I can forge new connections, and maybe rethink some old ones that have gotten lost or broken.
Connecting does not mean merging. It does not mean obliterating rightful distinctions or melting into an undifferentiated soup or giving up my unique point of view. It means permitting and honoring differentiation, while creating avenues through which information and energy can flow. It’s how understanding and love penetrate all parts of an organism, leaving each part fully itself while integrating the whole. It is the definition of healing.
I think of this as a sort of expanding circle that can reach out in many realms. The realm of people, from self to family and friends, closer and more distant, to acquaintances, chance-met strangers, and the totally unknown. The realm of physical experience, from my own body to my immediate environment, to the larger sphere of natural and human-crafted spaces in which I move, to places and things I know only through the reports of others, to areas I don’t know at all but which are still part of this universe.
Just because some of these elements are closer to me does not mean I am well connected to them. More distant areas need attention as well, but it’s the things I see and use every day that I tend to forget or pass over or even develop an aversion to. And I’d especially like to consider how I can connect — safely — to things or people or ideas that I find scary or uncongenial.
How do I connect with all of these? Will it be in very different ways, or will all connections at some point start to feel the same? Will single connections join into a greater network, will they start to grow and emerge in unexpected ways?
I’ve already reached out to one set of new connections, joining a small group of “One Worders” (an option Lisa offered this year), and it’s been quite amazing to experience the instant jolt of energy that intentional interest, enthusiasm and openness mutually exercised within a group of human beings can bring. I am excited to see how this develops over the year.
Do you have a word that you carry through the year? Or some other practice for focusing your intentions, goals, or hopes? If you did choose a word for 2022, what would it be?