Turn Toward NOËL
Noël, French for Christmas, is derived from the Latin verb nasci, meaning “to be born.” In the book of Ecclesiastes, the birth of Jesus is called natalis. ‘Natale’ is Italian for Christmas. I am a huge fan of words. Words organise an ongoing conceptual framework for the shifting, changing realities in life.
Noêl, Christmas, Hanukkah, Natale, Kwanza, are words indicating a season for celebration and appreciation. The words attributed and describing this season offer opportunities for us to shift our focus from the banal, everyday life tasks and worries, to open our hearts with words and concepts such as Love, Compassion, Family, Gratitude, Appreciation, Joy, and so on…
Without a doubt, we can agree that our ‘extraordinary’ 2020 clearly has presented an unprecedented opportunity for change; and in doing so, it has intensely challenged human existence and existing coping strategies worldwide. We are stepping into an unlimited, expansive future of “NEWNESS”.
Two new words for me this December, appearing in my daily dose of Dictionary.com, are ‘doomscrolling’ and ‘infodemic’. I for one am readily inspired to leave these words and actions out of my own conceptual framework and to develop alternative thinking.
“Infodemic” is defined as a massive amount of widely and rapidly circulating information about a particular crisis or controversial issue, consisting of a confusing combination of fact, falsehood, rumour, and opinion.
“Doomscrolling” is defined as the practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle.
Normal, outdated word or new perspective… Normal = Change?
The origin of “normal” was first recorded in 1520–30. It comes from the Latin normālis, “made according to a carpenter’s square”.
Normal human states can include but not be limited to physical, biological, psychological, sociological, cultural, environmental etc…
“Homeostasis” came into existence in the 1920s. The word expands on previous work by physiologist Claude Bernard. In the 1870s, Bernard described how complex organisms must maintain balance in their internal environment, or “milieu intérieur”, in order to lead a “free and independent life” in the external beyond.
The human body, for example, is in constant change. It regulates its internal micro-concentrations of elements, liquids and gases such as hydrogen, calcium, potassium and sodium that cells rely on for ‘normal’ function. Homeostatic processes also maintain water, oxygen, pH and blood sugar levels, as well as core body temperature.
Homeostatic processes unfold constantly and automatically and multiple systems often work in tandem to hold steady a single physiological factor like body temperature. If these measures falter or fail, an organism may succumb to a disease or even death.
It seems ‘Life’ will include COVID-19 in varying degrees for some years – forever? Plague remained a mystery for hundreds of years, yet now we are well-advanced from the era of these historical limitations. Smallpox, from which 3 out of 10 infected died, first appeared in 1977 and officially was declared eradicated in 1980. Bird Flu or H5N1 first appeared in 1997 and is notable for killing 60% of the people infected. Then there appeared the outbreaks of the Ebola Virus in 2014 and 2018 that first revealed itself in 1976. The current pandemic seems to me like it is outgrowing Galileo’s observations!
There are some epochs in which change comes at a higher price than at other times. Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1633.
Here we are with COVID-19 in 2020. Steps toward management and eradication come and go, ebb and flow like a tide, according to what is learned about the virus itself as we live with it. As science advances to protect us generally with a vaccine, personally, culturally, and sociologically we learn how to slow and manage the spread. Medical services grow in understanding when to, in which capacities to, and how to best prepare for, accommodate and treat victims. In our specific little micromanagement of our own homeostasis we develop coping strategies to remain well. There is a lot going on here.
How to do our Best?
Spain’s virus has slowed again; therefore the population is less confined. As far as I know, looming retribution such as a fine never existed there. We in France are looking eagerly toward 15 December when no more attestations nor the looming threat of a 135 € fine for leaving home without one will be required. Of course, we will move about with caution and attention. Germany only recently has returned to full confinement. And the U.S. is again assaulted with cases of infection.
In my opinion, this entire experience is just that – an experience – a process to learn about what we are dealing with, move through it with as much ‘protection’ as possible – even to attend to our abilities to nurture a sense of joy and control over our own health as well as to contribute to the protection of our fellow residents or the planet. Nothing going on is black or white. It is a process of normal human evolution; we are a rapidly expanding humanity.
How Do We Play It:
The way I play it is with a reference to the wise Cherokee grandfather who teaches his grandson about life: “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is ‘fear-based – filled with anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is love-based – filled with joy, peace, appreciation, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson reflected for a moment and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The wise Grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Is there a right moment to step out? With 100% gratitude for freedom, take advantage with full vigour according to your own intuition – your inner voice and guide, to feel alive and free, to attend expositions, films and events that have been lacking in your life. Or, for example, play the ‘Pyjama’ Game’. It is standard humour now that people are half-dressed at their business meetings, with shirt/blouse jacket visible and pyjama bottoms for ease and comfort in their work-from-home jobs.
In confinement for your holidays? Wear your favourite pyjamas, or ‘dress up’ and schedule a Holiday Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype or FaceTime with family and spend time sharing good and humorous memories of past holidays together. Recall the special details of the beautiful table, who arrived to share the holiday meal, who prepared it, and bring up some laughable unexpected incidents. As I remember one year, my sister who was not used to cooking found it an overwhelming responsibility to put the pie in the oven and she dropped it on to the floor – an image forever etched in my vision of that house! Express appreciation and play with your friends and loved ones across town or across the sea. Devise an imaginative, gamelike format to share recent experiences with newfound passions, interests, activities or books, programmes or characters etc.
We now live in the space age. I never thought I would see this. Have any of you noticed this straight line of flying lights near your home? They are about 500 pounds of materials with a reflective surface orbiting the earth. It is a sequence intended to provide Internet where it is unreachable. It is an Elon Musk Starlink.com space program Spacex.com that has ‘replaced’ NASA. A BETA programme is now active in Northern USA and Canada. I read certain parts of TX (clearly not Northern USA) will be able to access this system cost free in 2021. It truly is stunning how rapidly the paradigms of ‘life’ as we have known it are morphing. Imagine! People now can pay for a ’joy orbit’ around the earth!
Keep heart, my friends, and keep well. Nurture high spirits and self-care. Nourish the immune system and your own homeostasis. Recall at each moment the age-old wisdom of the grandfather chief – which wolf will you feed?
It always is enlightening to rely on the spirit of Noêl, to find overall more in the heart and less in the store: faith, joy, beauty, love, awe, family, health, friends, home, safety, appreciation, music.
Hmmm, what will become of Elon Musk?
Happy Holidays to you and yours from Paris. We’ll be seeing one another again soon.