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Only the Lonely

The holidays can be a difficult time. Seen through a Buddhist lens, they embody the worst of our expectations and clinging, and the subsequent disappointments when those expectations are not met. “The most wonderful time of the year” can scarcely live up to its billing in the face of rampant commercialism, families torn asunder and a heavy rotation of ten songs with the unintended effect of making you feel like your world is pretty lousy.

It is also the season in which people’s loneliness can get the better of them. Suicides are famously at their highest levels, and people often drift aimlessly through the last two weeks of the year not knowing where to turn. If it weren’t for the promise of a new beginning on January 1st (another potentially false marker), the despair might even be more acutely felt.

And yet, without something to mark our calendars and offer us a chance to reflect, where would we be? In a sense, the holidays are as much about awareness and consciousness as they are about denial and indulgence. We feel precisely because we are aware, however painful it may be.


It’s a well worn truism that the difficult moments are the ones that offer the greatest opportunity for growth, it’s the fatigued muscle lifting one more time that gets stronger, and it’s certainly the case now. Enjoy the day, or they days, however you celebrate. It does come but once a year. Don’t wait another year for the chance to do some of the most important work of your life.


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