a year of harmonic thinking

Dec 28, 2021

This time of year is naturally reflective for many of us.


Our minds stroll through the aisles of the past and the shelves of the future lingering at points to notice particular items. These may be dusty experiences to let go of. Or gratitude when recognizing ones that warmed and bolstered us. Or maybe experiences that inspired us to level up in terms of challenging ourselves going forward.


This is also the time of year when marketers prey on our deep and long-held insecurities of not being good enough and they promise us great return on our investment with just one more aggressive self-improvement project. Don’t fall for it. You are worthy of love and belonging just the way you are.


Each year around the solstice when I pause and reflect, I let a word or phrase rise up from the ashes of my reflections.


The word does not constitute a resolution or even an intention. It’s more of an awareness marinade. To allow the juicy flavour of the word to sink deep into muscle and memory so that if I do decide to set any more concrete goals at some point, there is some depth, some primordial marrow to energize the intention.


This year, after these trying pandemic years, the word that surfaced was Harmony.  A nudge toward a gentle awareness of the rhythmic sounds of my reciprocal relationship with other beings and with myself. 


Harmony, when it’s connected to music, has never really been my forte.


The many years of piano lessons with a purse-lipped teacher didn’t seem to resolve my unfortunate hand-ear coordination. Nor did learning how to transpose a piece of music from the music theory instruction allow me to easily stick with the alto notes when singing in a choir.  Even the years sitting in pews that smelled like Lemon Pledge and following the notes in the hymnal still found me searching for the harmony like a weird Where’s Waldo. My eyes could see the notes but my eyes, ears and my voice apparently weren’t on speaking terms.  So I mostly stayed with the safety of the familiar melody.


As I aged and raged at being born the twin who didn’t have an incredible musical ear, I would listen to popular songs over and over again focusing on the harmony.  Alone in my room with my ear to the radio, I let my voice slide up and down the invisible scale until I felt it lock into place with the voice of the back up singers to my favourite artists at the time.  Over time, with this practice, I found I could find the harmony with more regularity.


The word harmony isn’t just about music.



With some rigid thinking, perfectionist tendencies and a pinch of social anxiety, my relationships have often suffered from my lack of ability to notice which words or actions would best contribute to the pleasing cadence of interconnectedness.  Bruises from my bluntness were not always reserved for others when my relationship with myself was also peppered with discordant words and aggressive actions towards myself.


What would it look like to cultivate my ‘ear’ for harmony in my relationships?  If I acted as if others are always doing their best even as they fumble through their mishaps and misdemeanors?  What would it look like physically, in my body, in my actions, and words? And what would come from me offering myself the same?  Would there be more space, more ease, more harmony?


As you head into your new year,

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within

(John O’Donohue)

Peace to you and yours in 2022.


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