Like many, I’ve been finding it difficult to write my normal New Year’s “Looking Back, Looking Forward” blog post. Looking back at 2021 is just too messy and confusing with so many conflicting emotions and dimmed expectations. And looking forward . . . ?
“This year, I’m resolving to find the joy in the work, and to embrace that joy the way a person in the ocean would cling to a piece of floating debris.”
I’m with you, Chuck. Now has never been a better time for living in the present and squeezing every ounce of joy out of everything that comes our way.
“If not now, when? If not us, who?” Remember that old activist chestnut?
I never thought to apply it to embracing the here and now of joy. But honestly, it works. And it’s not as selfish as it might seem. If we fill our hearts and minds with the simple joys at hand, and stick with it despite all that would tempt us to turn away, the joy that fills us is sure to spill over to all around us.
My simple solution to a world gone awry! But hasn’t it done so again and again over the ages?
Maybe in times like these our purpose should be to focus on the joy at hand and multiply it.
The year 2020 may have been the most turbulent year any of us have ever known. Blogging in such a year was challenge enough. Trying to recapture that whirlwind may be beyond any of us.
But I will try. And at least it ends on a note of joy.
Looking back at my first blog post of 2020, I wrote about how challenging 2019 had been. My wish list for 2020 was the same as my 2019 list, as one year had not been enough long to bring the happy endings that I had hoped for. My wish list for 2021 would be a repeat of the last two years, except I’ve put wish lists on hold for the time being. Things are too uncertain, and the turbulent times are still with us.
In April I wrote about The Joy and Grief and Everything in Between that came with Covid, the mixed feelings and emotional turmoil so many were feeling as we tried to survive the initial lockdowns and isolation. We did not realize then how long all this would be going on, the horrendous death toll it would bring, or the economic disaster.
In May I wrote about Poetry in the Time of Corona. It must have resonated with a lot of readers as I saw it move into my :Top Ten Posts” list and rise to number 4.
In June during all the racial strife, the police brutality and protests, I began a series of posts about my “Brushes with Blackness,” how Black lives and Black culture colored my whiteness, and helped shape my sense of justice, fair play, and compassion for others.
In August I wrote the unsettling and surreal world in which we all were living in Still Waiting to Land . . . . I wrote: “Clearly we live in interesting times. A curse? Possibly. A cleansing? Hopefully. No wonder we feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under our feet. And we haven’t quite landed yet.” I still feel that way.
I followed that with Wildfires Everywhere, Politically and Literally about watching wildfires gobble up California and cast an eerie and ominous red glow over the land, even while the Democratic National Convention was providing a glimmer of hope midst all the devastation.
Unfortunately the political turmoil did not end with Biden’s victory as hoped, and perhaps even has gotten worse, which seems unimaginable. Yet, for me personally, 2020 has still ended on one ecstatic note.
At the beginning of this year I wrote: “The one gift 2019 gave me (which is huge and fills my heart!) is hope for my granddaughter when she came to live with me. Hope that she will remain in my care, happy and safe, healthy and strong, responsibly cared for and dearly cherished as she grows into a young woman.”
That gift kept growing in 2020. Everything I had hoped and planned for concerning my granddaughter’s welfare came true, as I wrote about in My Arms Are Empty, but My Heart is Full. She is happy and well and living the life of her dreams with her aunt and uncle: surfing, hiking, biking, movie nights snuggling on the couch, reading the Harry Potter series together before bed, laughing with her new best friends at school, and telling me all about her fun-filled days on our weekly video-chats. She was asked recently what the best thing about 2020 was. She answered, “Moving here. Else I wouldn’t have this life I love.”
So for all the turmoil of 2020, and whatever upheaval 2021 might bring, I can comfort myself with that huge gift of joy.
My wish list for 2020 is much the same. For one year, it appears, was not long enough to fulfill these wishes.
The happy ending I’d hoped for my son seems less likely now than ever. His addiction has once again robbed him of everything he built during four years of sobriety.
The happy ending for my novel is still on hold. We took it off the market while I sent it to a professional editor. And the editing I had begun was postponed when my granddaughter came to live with me.
Instead of more writing, painting, and blogging in 2019, there was less and less. I did not blog or paint or write at all last month.
More artful living? More love for all of us?
Not so much last year.
The one gift 2019 gave me (which is huge and fills my heart!) is hope for my granddaughter when she came to live with me. Hope that she will remain in my care–happy and safe, healthy and strong, responsibly cared for and dearly cherished as she grows into a young woman.
May this blog post be the beginning of a bright new year for all of us.