I got nothing, and yet something
…and that’s a good place to start 2021
The thing about writing is you want your work to make sense to the reader. To give another soul something coherent they can use in some way. After all, you took the time to read it (at the very least skim it) right?
And goodness knows there was plenty to say about 2020, a year with so many challenges, losses, emotions and things you’d never imagined. Murder hornets? A real thing. Toilet paper shortage? Still happening. Iceland Scream program? Genius. Kanye for President? Okay, why not. Pass the beer.
2020 came with such a heavy weight for all of us. Like everyone else, this year brought change to me and around me. I lost faith in a number of institutions meant to lead us, protect us, and guide us. I lost my mother as her battle with cancer ended. I lost whole parts of my neighborhood, watching it burn to the ground in the Minneapolis riots. And I lost my connections (hopefully temporarily) with family and friends as we tucked behind screens to ride out a pandemic that made human connections dangerous to our health.
Towards the end of this year, I finally found some peace and space to look at these pieces, the shards of what used to be. Still the words wouldn’t come. The pain was deep. Nothing came to do justice to that pain.
I had nothing.
But minds in time and space are like kaleidoscopes, each time you look, something different appears. It’s how we gain perspective and wisdom. And most importantly, heal.
And that’s a perfect place to start 2021.
For 2020, I will close its door and take its three lessons to heart.
Impermanence & integration — Institutions, things, people, they all break at some point. No matter how attached we are, we must accept this. It’s okay to grieve change and even be angry. It’s okay to feel it however you need to. But you must decide how to move forward, even when you think you cannot. This is when we do our best character development as a human, if we choose to do so. You must find a way to make peace with change, integrate it and build up your life and others, not burn them down. Burning is easy but there’s nothing left at the end. Building on the other hand, creates things. And if your thing makes the world a better place, even in a small way? Isn’t that something to strive for?
Clarity and compromise over conflict — Humanity fights itself. History shows it. Our newsfeeds reflect it back to us everyday. But conflicts cannot go on forever. It’s no way to live. While some of us get addicted to conflict and competition, most of us would prefer peace and a better outcome. But it takes work…not images, or memes, or boorish talk about how it’s the other guy’s fault. There’s more than two sides to a story. And I resent folks who tell me life’s big decisions are an “either/or” proposition and not an “and” or a mash-up of ideas. Take the time to think about what outcome you really want and why. And then get to work.
Breath — A virus targeting the lungs and heart, racial injustice, and days upon days of stress taking its toll. We all struggled to breathe this year. If you are reading this now, you are alive and you are still breathing. How you live and make the most of that breath is largely up to you. In this year, we have breathed through disillusionment, sorrow, anger, loss, boredom, fear, stress, happiness, guilt, resignation, resilience and hope. It carries you along. Cherish it. Use it. And don’t give it up without a fight.
Happy 2021 all. Onward.