“The imagination is not a state: it is the human experience itself.”
– William Blake
I think we can all collectively agree that the beginning of this year does not feel much different or “brand new” in contrast to 2020. Moreso, it feels like the years have blended together seamlessly, and so did the energy we’ve been hoping to escape for so long.
I found this past year to highlight any form of escapism we’ve had inside of us. We’ve all made our best attempts at feeling better in any way we could, with whatever tools we had available to us. I can whole-heartedly admit that I can be somewhat of an escapist, naturally. When I’m depressed, I indulge in music with strong narrative songwriting and create film reels in my head. When I’m heartbroken, I either travel or pack up my life and move somewhere new. When I’m feeling alone, I write novels, creating fictional worlds and spending hours getting to know characters that don’t exist but feel very real to me.
Unless I’m physically roaming the world, I’ve grown quite accustom to traveling far places in my mind. It’s incredible how much you can explore whilst staying exactly where you are. Normally, this trait that I genuinely like about myself would be challenged by others who might consider me to be a bit of a nut…but I have to say, if there is anything I can point to saving me in 2020 and throughout my life, it’s my imagination.
While working on the third draft of my book, going through yoga teacher training, rescuing a kitten that I decided to name Frida Kahlo (which, if you get the reference, is quite fitting to her personality), re-furnishing my space (because if I can’t physically move, I still want to feel like I’m in a new environment), and connecting with friends in a way I haven’t in a long time, I’m actively deciding to focus on the wins of 2020 as opposed to the losses.
If I lived this past year at a younger age, I’m not sure I’d be able to survive it, let alone focus on the positives. I’m not sure I’d be able to cope with a break-up, the death of a dear friend, lockdown, the state of the world, family drama, and everything else that the year brought. But after each loss, I imagined. I imagined a new life for myself…and then got right back into my regular therapy sessions (because living in my head isn’t always a pretty sight.)
A lot of us set goals for the new year or create lists of all the things we want to do, but since everything continues to be uncertain, something new I’ve put into practice is setting intentions. I set an intention each morning before my meditations, I set them at the end of the week when I reflect on how I’ve been doing, and now I’m deciding to set them for the year.
With the chaos of 2020, I made my mental health a priority (which I probably should have been doing my whole life, but you live and you learn!). Through all the external dramas, fears, and losses, it was the first time in my life I’ve felt peace within myself. Not saying I never felt anxious, sad, alone, or exhausted, but the shift in my priorities brought a noticeable difference to how quickly I was able to come back from each setback (and there were a lot of them).
My intention this year is to feel and create more peace for myself. I don’t think I’ve ever been a “calm” or “relaxed” woman, nor did I ever think it was in my DNA to be. But for the first time, last year, I began to feel it. So that is what I imagine for myself and intend to strive towards this year. To find more peace, to continue with efforts of centering myself after any other setback to come (because whatever I’m doing is clearly working), and to keep writing, because that’s always been my safe space, my home.
In my experience, when things change inside you, things change around you. And though none of us know what is to come next, we can use this time to create or enhance our own coping tools and strategies.
So here’s to another year, and to living it intentionally.