The Recovering Farmer

Monday, January 4, 2016

Does It Define You

Another year has come and gone. And as years go it seems like this one went just a little quicker than the one before which went just a little quicker than the one before it, that went a little quicker than the one before, etc, etc. Is this a sign of aging? Must be. How else can one explain the passage of time?

Imagine, if you will, sitting with a complete stranger and that person asking you about you. Who you are. What your year was all about. What would our answer be? In this time of welcoming a new year, I have heard various responses to that question. They range from thoughts of the old year to wishes for the new. I have been struck by how many refer back to a difficult experience. My father died. I went through significant health struggles. My child endured a difficult time. My spouse had this, my partner had that, my job was this, my kid had that. It seemed that most people identified the past with a problem they had experienced.

As I reflect on the year past I recognize certain points. I am saddened by how most, if not all, of those points were low points in my year. Experiences I wish I had never had but experiences nonetheless. As alluded to previously my mental health was not what it should have been. I experienced some work issues I wish I never had. There were certain relational issues that hurt. Experiences that have left scars. Experiences that still make me wonder why.

It is easy to dwell on those events. It comes rather naturally to lament about what might have been. But to what end? Is that what my identity is? Do I allow these experiences to define me? The answer apparently is, yes. That is what consumes me. That is who I seem to think I was.
When I reflect further I recognize many positive moments in 2015. New opportunities. Enhanced relationships. A golf game that ended on a positive note. An increased joy in family. I found myself not dreading winters as per usual. The winter solstice did not have the normal attention that it has had in the past. End of year happened without additional anxiety. There were so many positives that I could focus on.

That made me wonder why our natural response seems to be the negatives that we experienced over the year. Why is it that, in response to the question above, our response seems to be a description of negative events or things that might have been?

Imagine, if you will, responding to the question by talking about how great the year had been. Opportunities that came about. Successes you experienced. I know my response should that happen to me. I would question the person’s sanity. Wonder what they had been smoking. Wondering whether pot had been legalized and I missed it.

It seems that we have been wired to talk about negatives to the point of being defined by experiences we would like to forget and yet keep bringing up. Sounds like a conundrum to me. We talk about negatives as much as we try to be positive but don’t want others to think that we are actually happy with life because then they might get the wrong idea. There is something really wrong with this picture.

So here I go with the new me. Life is great. I think something bad happened last week but I can’t remember because everything else has been going so well since then. Okay. That really is a load of crap. But me thinks if I could think that way would really improve my life. I like the quote below. Don’t know who said it but am going with it. Happy New Years. Make it a good one.

“There are none so blind as those who believe their own nonsense.”

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