A few years ago I wondered why the twelve months of the year have the names they do, and around the same time I was thinking, for many of us, there is a lack of awareness of rhythm and ritual in our lives, so I put the two ideas together and came up with a theme for each month of the year.
I use the theme as a touchstone of a kind. It’s a reminder, a meditation focus, a thought to return to each day….
March, the month which is named after Mars, has become, for me, the month to focus on strength.
There are two aspects of that which have come up for me this year as I reflect on this theme.
The first has been prompted by my reading of an article by Richard Sennett about “open cities”. He focuses on the issues which arise from us trying to live together – as we do as human beings, clustering together and building huge cities. That reminds me of T S Eliot’s Choruses from the Rock –
When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”
What will you answer? “We all dwell together
To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?
And the Stranger will depart and return to the desert.
О my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger,
Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.
Before I wander too far off topic, one of the key points Richard Sennett makes is about boundaries and borders. He says
The boundary is an edge where things end; the border is an edge where difference groups interact. At borders, organisms become more inter-active, due to the meeting of different species or physical conditions; for instance, where the shoreline of a lake meets solid land is an active zone of exchange where organisms find and feed off other organisms. Not surprisingly, it is also at the borderline where the work of natural selection is the most intense. Whereas the boundary is a guarded territory, as established by prides of lions or packs of wolves. No transgression at the boundary: Keep Out! Which means the edge itself is dead.
That’s a pretty new idea for me, but I’ve long since known the importance of healthy borders. In thinking about health, we need healthy boundaries which are maintained by our immune systems, but we also need healthy borders where we meet and interact with what is “other”.
So, here’s the first thing I’m going to reflect on this month, the month of strength – how are my boundaries and how are my borders? How healthy are they, and how might I make them healthier?
I think the answers to those questions are unique for each of us, but if you are inspired by this, why not reflect on boundaries and borders in your own life? See what you come up with?
The second aspect which has come up for me is Seligman’s idea of strengths. If you’ve never done it, or it’s some time since you did it, go and take the free questionnaire on his site and find out what your own core strengths are.
Just as I reflected on the difference between positive and negative hope, I think we can build our strengths by paying attention to them – not by beating ourselves up over our weaknesses!
So, there you are – March – the month of strength. What does that mean for you?