by Brandon Nappi
The coldest and darkest days of the year always beckon me to search inside myself. Following the rhythm of nature, I notice a desire to hibernate in my own way—slowing down and making time for introspection. I listen for new intentions that want to emerge and ask myself what might be added to a life that is already quite full. I also bring curiosity to what needs to be surrendered. I hold curiosity about the habits, patterns, and activities that no longer serve my life.
This careful sacred addition and subtraction is the ongoing work of calibrating our lives to be in alignment with our deepest purpose.
I’ve always understood that my purpose in life is to bring the deepest care that I can to each moment and to each person I encounter. As I contemplate where I am being led in the early days of 2018, I realize that caring has a very important and often overlooked companion—not caring. In order to care, we also need to know how not to care.
So: The Sacred Act of Not Caring
When I ponder what additions and subtractions might be needed in the new year, I notice familiar protestations arising from the voice within my head. This time, however, I also discover a fresh new word challenging the validity of each protest: So?
As I discern some new decisions, the commentary in my head is beginning to sound more like this:
My decisions may not look like the decisions of others. So?
Things may not turn out according to plan. So?
I may need to face a hard truth about myself. So?
I may be very uncomfortable for the foreseeable future. So?
This decision may require immense work. So?
This decision might impact my entire life. So?
But I may be rejected. So?
Now, when I hear the voice of self-criticism, I breath into the sense of freedom and possibility that I feel emerging as I repeat this ordinary two-letter word: So. This simple word can be incredibly liberating as we practice observing the usual commentary that confines our creativity. So invites the willingness to be with what you don’t understand, can’t predict or control. So requires a kind of vulnerability and non-attachment that is at the heart of our mindfulness practice. Therefore, so is not a cry of apathy, but a declaration of freedom as we emerge from the false confinements of our thinking. So is simply the trail of breadcrumbs back to what is possible.
Living according to so doesn’t mean that you don’t care anymore; it’s that in order to care more deeply, we need to let go of outcome and approval. Living according to so involves remembering that our truest identity and deepest purpose is not defined by any particular activity or judgement from others. We can declare so, not because we don’t care, but because we have infinite worth just as we are. What has infinite worth does not need to be protected or guarded from outcome or approval.
As I ponder the possible additions and subtractions that I might make to my life, this is my inquiry for 2018: What possibilities, creativity, and radical love would I unleash into the world if I trusted my infinite worth more deeply?
I don’t know what the new year will bring. I suspect it will be a mix of welcomed changes and surprising disappointments. We can be sure that a cocktail of rejoicing, grieving, loving, and losing await us in this human experiment we call life. May you find generous love to support you along with ample courage to stretch your heart and mind as you seek to be of service in 2018. No matter what unfolds in the year ahead, may you discover more fully the freedom of so and the unbreakable truth of your infinite worth.