Welcome, 2022. Please be kind. Please bring health, happiness and strength across the world.
I do wonder, when we look back at the 2020s from a distance of a decade of more, whether we will be able to distinguish 2020 from 2021, and 2021 from 2022 or whether the years will all feel like a blur of covid years. I already find it difficult to work out which May or June, which lockdown, and which wave were which. Was it May this year or last that was so hot and sunny? Can it really be almost 2 years since I have been living life very differently. And the unspoken question – will life look any different this year?
Going into the new year after the wall-to-wall covid year, I am glad I have my three word mantra to distinguish the previous years. And I trust that this coming year will be characterised as much by the words which I have settled upon to guide me through whatever is thrown at us.
With the covid situation so protracted, I have found it a strange process this year to find that balance between aware of the unpredictability of times ahead, yet maintaining my focus on what is important and the priorities for the year. And the words which have come to me for 2022 are now ready to be shared. My three word mantra to guide and inspire me in the months ahead are:
Unfurl, forage and savour
As the Voldemort milestone retreats into the past (the number which cannot be said out loud, but in Scotland reaching this age gifts a bus pass), I am increasingly reminded that I do not want to spend my golden years working flat out. Moving to part time working has affirmed that, and whet my appetite for slowing down even more. My mother died on her 65th birthday and as I approach that age, I want to step off the speeding roundabout and enjoy the benefit of having worked for the past 40 years, rather than work up to my last email breath.
Finding a word which captured this sense of “slowing down” was more difficult than I expected. Decelerate is too mechanical, slow doesn’t capture enough of what I want to convey and searching through dictionaries I discovered that many of the synonyms for slowing down had negative connotations. Such as lag behind, delay, impede, stall, setback, restrain … Which was very revealing about the world we live in and the value placed on rushing and speeding through life and work. Have we learned nothing from the pandemic and shifted priorities? And that made me all the more determined to find a word which would place value on slowness.
The other dimension of slowing down which I wanted to aim towards this coming year, is that of becoming unbusy, and releasing the tension of recent months. After so long being tightly coiled, and as physical strength and capacity gradually reduces, I want to unwind in order to be able to live at a slower pace. Which brings in the perfect word – unfurl. I want to release and untighten from the stress and pressures of recent times, and slowly open like the promise of a new leaf, slowly unfurling, feeling the breeze as it reaches out towards the sun and the coming season. If I can unfurl, and embrace the rhythms of nature, this will allow a gentler, unhurried pace of life.
My second word is one which reflects an intentional approach to living, one where I consider carefully what I need, and one where I make the most of my surroundings in many senses. My second word is forage and it has meanings both very literal, and more figurative. Forage prompts me to look for wonders in front of me, under my feet and above my head. Forage tells me that exploring is a wonderful way of living and reminds me of the times when I lived in places where the produce is seasonal and dependent on weather., and when I relied on using my creativity to use what was available, rather than what I thought I wanted. Forage reminds me that there is a great deal in my surroundings and I just need to open my eyes and my mind. Forage also reminds me not to be wasteful and to use and share what I have.
In the less literal sense, forage reminds me to be observant and look out for those little treasures around me which hold so much potential to inspire creativity. And foraging is not limited to edibles, as I am surrounded by a lifetime of collectibles and memories which have stories to tell and seek a space to speak.
I look forward to discovering which paths foraging might take me on and what discoveries I might make.
My third word complements and travels comfortably alongside its two companions. As I unfurl and forage, I realise that I can enhance this if I make that effort to enjoy the slower pace and savour the simple things around me. To really savour flavours, sounds and sensations, it is important not to rush. Again, there are a wealth of interpretations from the very obvious senses of taste, and smell which we most immediately associate with savour, to the other senses. I can savour the music of birdsong by closing my eyes, and just listening. I can savour the sight of flowers welcoming bees as they go about their day’s work and I can savour memories which spring up unexpectedly by pausing and capturing them as they flitter by.
The past years have especially shown us that life can change dramatically and drastically in a heartbeat. Covid and cancer have been clear examples. And that doesn’t diminish the challenges that come with an unwelcome development, which can be overwhelming and distressing. That is completely valid. But it does mean that we can accept what is, rather than what might be or should have been. And seek to focus on aspects around us that are there to savour.
And so my three word mantra for 2022 has taken shape. Savour reminds me to embrace what we too often consider small, ordinary and insignificant and this is so much more achievable when unfurled and living at a slower pace, and foraging with an inquisitive mind.
It is time to embrace 2022 with my three words as a constant, guiding companion. May 2022 be kindly, inspiring and healthy for us all.