Season of Contrast

season of contrast globes 121915

What is up with me and this time of year? I find myself feeling all awkward and wonky like clapping off the beat and tripping over the curb.

I’m not one for organized religion but even my odd spiritual amalgam does allow me to see that this is a special season in many ways. It’s just that I feel out of sync and clumsy for most of it.

Perhaps more than any other time of year, there are a whole tangle forces at work: nature and culture, sacred and secular, light and dark, giving and receiving, grief and celebration. Life is always full of everything but in December, there is a lot more of everything. In fact, part of the reason I feel buffeted by the holidays is that this is the season of contrasts and contradictions.

For example,

  • Our side of the earth will be its darkest in just a few days. Nature’s natural cycle lends itself to nurturing introspection and healing rest now. And yet, flash-sparkly lights are strung on everything that doesn’t move and some things that do. The artificial pop and shimmer can be fun, breath-taking, delightful… and disorienting.
  • Temperatures drop (usually) into the windshield-scraping zone which makes me want to snug-bundle by the fire with an unending pot of tea and the warm, quiet company of cat and man. And yet, we have more parties and gatherings and high-heel-wearing occasions in the next two weeks than in any other time.
  • Gratitude and generosity are at the heart of the season. I love offering gifts of love to the people for whom I am thankful all year. And yet, it is also now when empty chairs are painfully obvious. Whether separated by distance or death, anger or the Army, feelings of loss stand fully alongside those of connection.

With all these wildly contrasting forces at work, it’s no wonder I feel a little scrambled up inside: I’m swinging between life’s extremes and after a while, that swinging makes me want to put my head down.

Instead of swaying back and forth between contradictory conditions, what happens if I opened enough to feel both at the same time? Appreciate the inky depths of the solstice sky and the simultaneously glowing moon. Snuggle into the warmth and nurture of company and community. Fully feel the complicated love for those who are here and those who aren’t.

Simultaneously light and heavy, bright and dark. Giving and receiving. Grateful and grieving.

A tricky balance, I grant you, but perhaps less confusing and unsettling to feel it together.

Contrasts coexisting concurrently.


LEAVE A COMMENT, GET A GIFT ~ ‘Tis the season of appreciation for Focus Pocus readers! Please add a comment below or at the Focus Pocus Facebook page and I’ll send you a gift for creative meditation! You can choose from the super-cool one from last week about The Gap (it’s got a hidden message!) or a new one for this week (which I haven’t made yet so who knows what it will be!). ❤


  1. I would have commented without the offered carrot (please tell me it’s not actually a carrot) because you sum up so accurately how I feel about this time of year – and offer such a good solution. Perfectly possible, I think, once you accept what’s going on. Thanks for another lovely post – and for all of them throughout the past year.

    • Thank you, as ever for reading and joining the conversation! Please email me at sjmnia (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll send you a gift that is not a carrot (but now I want to make a piece of art with carrots)! xo

  2. My most important revelation of 2015 was that it’s not only possible, but incredibly common to have conflicting feelings about the same thing. Knowing that both of my feelings were valid completely changed things for me. Merry Christmas.

    • True enough! And somehow conflicting feelings are even more pronounced at this time of year. Thank you for reading and for jumping into the conversation. I’d love to send you a little thank you — if you email me at sjmnia (at) gmail (dot) com, I will gladly do just that. Happy Merry Ho Hos! ❤

  3. I think your last paragraph is the key. Escape the cult of “duality.” To much of our world is enamored with the choices of either or, black or white, liberal or conservative, true or false, dark or light, cold or hot. The real world is always a mix of the extremes, a blend, and we are in a better place when we keep that in mind. Too much damage is done by duality thinking, fundamentalism, political purity, no compromise. Some may say that is the easy way out but in fact it is often more difficult to see both sides of an issue or the complexity of mixed emotions.

    • It’s funny, Pete, but when I was teaching today, I kept thinking of politics and how black and white is the easy answer. Us & Them and you are either with us or you’re against us. Living in the gray area of both/and is far more complex and true to life. ❤

  4. Lori Raphael said:

    Dear Susan, Thank you for the gifts of your writing this year, and thanks especially for the challenge to meditate every day in February. I enjoy being part of your community on line.

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