Lifting the weight from the back of my neck

Scotland, United Kingdom

On this final day of 2021, I am drawn to reflect on all that has happened these past two years, both to myself and the world. I am grateful for so many things. I am grateful for all the ways I have grown and learned. I am grateful for all I have fought to achieve in my health, work and studies. I am grateful for loving hard and being loved.

I feel anger, sadness and disappointment, many things are wrong in this world. I hold and acknowledge these feelings. The world feels very overwhelming some days. Some days the clouds of anxiety barely let me draw breath. There is much of beauty in this world but right now there is an abundance of fear.

There is a lot to fear: climate change, covid, other pandemics, war, oppression, resource scarcity, injustice, genocides, risks from Artificial Intelligence, discrimination and more. The covid pandemic will come to define my generation I am sure. The apocryphal saying “May you live in interesting times”, commonly attributed as a Chinese curse, rings in my ears. I would be glad to swap these times for peace. Give up our place in the history books in favour of happy mundanity.

Sometimes dealing with the collective trauma that we are living with is so hard. At times I feel a weight pressing into the back of my neck. It lingers there, pushing me further into my bed in the mornings. Resisting my efforts to bounce up bright-eyed and bushy tailed à la Instagram lifestyle influencer. I shift positions, rub my fingers into muscles, twist my head from side to side. Still, it remains. Deep down I know this sensation is far more than physical. My body is reacting to over 650 days of stress and anxiety in a very visceral way. This weight is physical and emotional, all my personal troubles mixed with the grief, rage and sadness that so many of us feel.

I am glad I am not anaesthetised to all the wrong and harm done in the world. I’m glad I have the capacity to care so deeply, to want to try to do anything in any small way to help. I will hold space for all the personal and collective loss and suffering. But I must allow myself to lift this weight from my neck, stretch my muscles and care for myself. I invite all of you who share this feeling to do the same. There is much of beauty and love in this world. The way we care for each other; deeply, meaningfully and selflessly. The way we can laugh through the hardest of times and cry into the necks of our loved ones. I am lucky to have those in my life who care for me and I am glad I can care for others so deeply. This is what I want to celebrate.

I don’t normally make new year resolutions but this time I felt the urge to do so. Here they are:

  • To care for myself deeply, radically and transformatively.
  • To extend empathy, compassion and care to those around me. To the extent of my capacity, with respect for my boundaries.
  • To accept the care that others give me, without guilt.

We have a long way to go. Things are hard, the times are interesting. I pray that I have the strength to be the best version of myself and go some way towards finding my peace.

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