Depth Year revisited
I follow a few different people's blogs but one post in particular stood out last year and I incorporated parts of it into my own end of the year post as it fit perfectly with my assessment of things as well as inspired me in additional ways as well.
We are now a year later and the author, David Cain, once again shared his insights and thoughts around what the year brought his way and I thought I'd simply add it on here for you to enjoy because the message continues to resonate and is worthy of consideration and as he states at the end, every year has become a 'depth year' !
I'd love to hear what you think of this so please comment, share with others and let's look at this together!
Here's to the New Year and new possibilities already wrapped up in all that is present in our lives, in this moment!
"My Depth Year
I didn’t follow the original premise of the Depth Year, which is “no new hobbies, no new possessions.” Instead I simply tried to keep depth at the front of my mind when I made decisions.
To my surprise, my habits began to shift quite naturally. Depth wasn’t so much a game of persistently striving to top myself, it was more like a new lens for looking at the tools and opportunities that had always been there. Essentially, I saw more possibilities everywhere: in my pantry, in my wardrobe, in my bookshelf, in my plans, in the different ways I might spend a spare hour.
Enjoying ordinary things seemed to take less effort. Without anything resembling striving, I derived more satisfaction from meals, furniture, cups of tea, walks to the store, hellos and goodbyes with friends, even odd details like illustrations in books and the shape my own handwriting.
In hindsight I attribute this effect to a deceptively simple shift in where I was expecting to find fulfillment: here, rather than there. As I got reacquainted with the things and people already around me, I started to let go of a certain background belief—pervasive in our consumption-driven culture—that fulfillment is something whose ingredients still need to be acquired.
These changes were all positive and welcome. The real value of my Depth Year, however, didn’t come from this new level of gratitude, or the rewards of taking certain pursuits a little deeper. Something much more significant happened.
Without going into the details, I’ll just say that this year, several lifelong personal issues began untangle themselves in a way I didn’t think was possible. I feel more free and more confident than I have since… jeez… childhood?
A number of factors contributed to this rapid untangling, and the subsequent flood of epiphanies. It couldn’t have happened without the Depth Year lens, though, because of a particular demand the pursuit of depth makes on us: we can’t go deeper in a given area without coming to terms with why we were never able to before.
In other words, we end up having to figure out what’s really stopping us. Why do we tend to back off at a certain depth? I assumed it was simply because it’s always easier to spread out and enjoy the rapid progress at the beginning of something else, than it is to tough it out with irregular French verbs or tricky guitar chords.
Presumably, it is sometimes only that. But I think more often we stop digging because we find something extremely painful about working past a certain point, and we don’t want to sort it out. We don’t want to run into our limits, we don’t want to feel dumb, we don’t want to get rejected. We don’t want to put our hearts on the line if we don’t have to, and all the important things involve our hearts.
Relationships, for example, can only go so deep when you’re afraid to risk rejection, say what you really think, or reach out to people who might respond badly, or not at all.
Creativity is easy to turn away from for the same reason. It’s risky. Trying to draw something for the first time in a decade is terrifying. Showing people your work is even scarier.
So we live in great danger of inadvertently keeping our most cherished pursuits, the ones that promise the most fulfillment, buried down there in the realm of “potential,” where they’re safe from the real world and its limitations. In the meantime, we find other things to do—things that offer less meaning, but more assured outcomes—and we just get older.
Going deeper means finally seeing what’s really going to come of it. And that’s damn scary. Existentially scary. It is our one life, after all.
This is all pretty new to me. But I can tell you two things: as a rule, fulfillment awaits us downward from here, not outward; and from now on, every year will be a Depth Year." ~ David Cain