Brain Waves with Debra Rose

The Middle Way

Ours is a culture of extremes. Most prominent examples of this are evident in how we approach the holiday season.   All year we are aware, and attempt to prepare for the festivities, yet we find ourselves emotionally and physically drained by the end of the calendar year.  We race around to spend quality time with family and friends, attend events, meals, parties, and travel.  We shop, cook, consume, and juggle our regular responsibilities, often putting our positive intentions and healthy habits on pause until the New Year.  Challenged by fear of missing out while needing to maintain balance feels like we are playing (and losing) a game of psychological jujutsu by January 1.

On Thanksgiving we take a moment to sit down to a meal in the middle of the week, perhaps the middle of the day depending on your crowd, to be with those we love and care about.  The date on the calendar reminds us to appreciate all that we have, and to be thankful for such abundance in our lives, the way Debra Thompson reminds us, “Take a deep breath, and have a great day” on her outgoing message.  And we truly are grateful, the way we dutifully take a deep breath when someone reminds us to do so.  Did you just take a deep breath?

The following day the shopping bonanza ensues, the intensity grows each year, where every website you ever clicked on sends coupon codes and emails for sales.  Friday spills into Monday and then into December, the month consumed in a few gulps of parties, purchasing and social pandemonium. We are pulled and are pulling ourselves in all directions as the days grow shorter and the lights more cheerful.  We descend into a joyous, frantic, action packed month until the bitter end of the calendar, where we toast with champagne, stay up late, craft resolutions and celebrate (or lament) in where we are in our lives and in the world.

Maybe this is what the ‘season’ is, what we should expect, what we know.  Maybe the frantic energy is fun, a break from the rest of the year’s monotony.  Maybe this is the best time of the year, or maybe it is what we are familiar with but do not have to go through the cycle so predicably.

Enter January, often coined ‘sober January,’ a reaction to weeks of culinary debauchery.  We are encouraged to atone.  We revisit strict resolutions. Alcohol in exile, maybe there is a cleanse, an exodus of gluten, sugar, dairy from our kitchens.  It can feel like punishment mode, in addition to the full brunt of winter.  Eventually we return to real life.  Is this all necessary?

What if we did not try so hard? Is it possible to find the middle way? Maybe there is something to be said for moderation.  What if we calmed down, had fun, and gave thanks more often throughout the year? If we regularly took more time to see friends and family, the biggest travel day of the year would not be a relationship litmus test.

Awareness and modifying the automatic influence of the seduction of a sale and the pressure to be everywhere and do everything does not make one the Grinch.  What if 2023 was a year of moderation, the simplest resolution of all.  It is not actually having one, its commitment to just be. And celebrate somewhere in the middle.