Tuesday, December 20, 2011


There's hardly anything I love more than when I change my mind about some belief I've held close to my heart over a long period of time. Especially as I grow older, I'm a lot less interested in identifying with my values and beliefs, hence if some window opens that brings in a fresh breeze of new thought, I tend to be delighted rather than appalled.

Devoting oneself to any set of beliefs is a form of mental stinginess, it's stuckness, inertia. When my mind opens to a new way of thinking, it's refreshing, slightly unsettling, but good, really good.

You know I'm not talking about the finest of human values like compassion, the desire to do good deeds and care about others. Those qualities are expansive and generous. What I'm referring to are societal standard thought forms, like "Republicans are bad," or "All corporations are evil," or "Every politician is corrupt."

Or ... "I hate the holiday season."

That's the thought form that has quite suddenly and miraculously shifted in my mind and heart. By suddenly I mean over the last few years. I used to be the ultimate holiday season grinch. I began complaining long before the season arrived, made myself absolutely miserable from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Yesterday between clients I looked back through old journals to see just how vociferous I used to be about what I believed was an unalterable fact: that I would always suffer during the holidays because I have no husband, family in town, children or a reason to celebrate any one of the festivals of light that take place at this time of year.

I felt sad for the younger Reya, suffering so much and for no reason whatsoever. Gracious! All that's different now, whether because I'm in the happy hour of life, or due to years of receiving the wholesome benefit of Chinese medicine or something I can't identify.

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, a minor holiday in Judaism that got plumped up because of having to compete with Christmas. Friends are coming for dinner, so I'm going to make potato latkes. Fun! On Thursday I'll join a group of neighbors at the Capitol Christmas tree to sing carols. On Christmas Eve I'll be at an open house here in the 'hood, and on New Year's Day I've been invited to a "big-ass buffet" at a friend's house in Dupont Circle.

I would never pass up a big-ass buffet, I mean really! Would you? It will be a lovely conclusion to the lovely holidays this year.

Devotion to a set of entrenched ideas, especially if they make you miserable, is sadly ridiculous, yes? I say yes. I used to think that sticking to my guns, as it were, meant I had integrity. If that doesn't reflect a bit of twisted thinking, I don't know what does.

Turning now from reflecting on old thought forms, it's on to solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's.

Cheers! (clink)

The leaves are long gone now which makes visible almost the entire dome of the Capitol from the east side of Lincoln Park.


ellen abbott said...

I stil don't care for the season but it's not the gatherings or the different celebrations. It's the commerciality of it all. It's having christmas crammed down your throat 24/7 for two months. It's nice to see friends and family and eat but it's certainly not the 'most wonderful time of the year'. And tragedy is not more tragic for having taken place during the holidays.

Cyndy said...

Happy Hannukah, Reya! I actually get to bail on the holidays this year because I'm heading off to China tomorrow. But now I'm suddenly feeling oddly wistful. It sounds like you'll be doing the perfect amount of celebrating.

Angela said...

Clink! I like Christmas. Happy Days, Reya!

Kerry said...

I agree with you, Reya. It feels great to shift and revise opinions, that's maybe a part of what wisdom is. It's fun to celebrate the goodness that lies within these winter holidays, and it sounds like your coming weeks will lightened by some very enjoyable times. I can't wait to hear what's served up at the Big Ass Buffet!

Lynne said...

And I can relate to holding on to "Devotion to a set of entrenched ideas, especially if they make you miserable" like the silly idea in my head that snow does a Christmas make.

Not so.

*You* make Christmas was it is. You. Yourself. Not snow.

Dumb. I need to let it go.

Happy Holidays to you Reya! Enjoy!

Whitney Lee said...

I love this. I have a tendency to have that same silly thought pattern, the whole integrity deal. What a great way to point out the ridiculousness of it. The whole point is change and growth, right?
And I'm with Ellen-I hate the commercialism of Christmas even though I love the season. Having young children has also reminded me of the magic of Christmas. They are too young to simply pester me for toys. Mostly we've looked at decorations and kept our eyes open for reindeer. The Salvation Army people everywhere has also provided several opportunities to remind them about 'giving back.'

Steve Reed said...

As I'm sure you know you've touched on Buddhist "emptiness" in this post -- an absence of fixed characteristics, an openness to change. It IS refreshing (and sometimes unsettling) to be reminded that we're not fixed beings but always-evolving collections of ideas, emotions and physical presence.

I love that top photo. It looks biological, like something you'd see through a microscope. :)

Tom said...

big-ass buffet is what we Americans live for. Food first.

Pauline said...

Oh I like the idea of opening the mind to new ways of looking at things. One needn't participate in the buying frenzy to appreciate the fact that Christmas includes gifts - once my family decided to simplify Christmas and either make gifts according to our talents or write letters of appreciation, the whole commercial aspect has gone on around me like so much background noise, easily ignored as I focus on the one perfect gift I can create for each family member. The stress has been transformed into delight. And oh, the lights and the colors and those beautiful songs that I listen to only at this time of year. I am not religious - the words don't count as much as the tunes themselves. So, carry on Christmas, yes?

Reya Mellicker said...

Steve no I didn't know. How cool!

Whitney! Decorations and reindeer - YES.

And all the rest of you - so nice to be back in the world of blogging!

What does Tiny Tim say? God bless us everyone!

nerima roberts said...

Hahahahaaaaa! "I would never pass up a big-ass buffet,...."