Thinking about this end of year stuff first makes my mind go blank and that eventually settles into my body as a knot in my stomach so, in the interest of self-care, I am just going to freefall here if you don’t mind.
This last year has been like another car of the same train, a train that has been disrupting, menacing and claiming lives for nearly two years, when the pandemic rolled into the world. Yes, we have new tools, which is beyond helpful, but two years in, it means we are just that much more over it, frazzled, scared, frustrated, stung by the indifference of others and tired of that ever-present train whistle and rumble. Just tired. (Not to be too self-indulgent, but it’s an even longer train for us, a train that started in February of 2019, when John was diagnosed with leukemia, had a bone marrow transplant and subsequent quarantine, but come to think of it, that is a different train pulling a bunch of cacophonous cars on a different track, but it often feels the same and sometimes the tracks criss-cross.) (What year is it again?)
If we ran a proper website at Vegan Street, I would take this year-end opportunity to remind you of our successes, and there were those, detailed in our short video. So I guess this is to say we did do that. With 2022 waiting for us – like the proverbial cat stationed next to the mousehole? – it’s probably best to just keep moving forward, though, because there is no other way.
So I’m going to move forward and say that I hope you find peace and forgiveness, for yourself and for others, in 2022. I hope the same for myself.
I hope you tap into resources of strength, gratitude and patience you didn’t know you had. I hope the same for myself.
I hope this time changes you and me for the better: I hope that it makes us more wise, more compassionate, more considerate, more joyful and more discerning about who we let into our minds, hearts and lives. I hope we never return to the normal that took anything precious for granted. I hope that we never return to the normal of thinking that honest vulnerability is anything but a key asset and strength. I hope we never return to the normal of shutting down conversations about injustice and work to fix these injustices with effective idealism, creativity, resourcefulness and ego-less willingness.
. . .
If there is anything that changes a person, it is trauma. Being pummeled with a long and ever-unfolding medical trauma, our family emerged from our foxhole a little shell-shocked. It made me so keenly aware of who and what matters, though, and extremely protective of my time, knowing how fragile and uncertain it is for each and every one of us, whether or not you have a scary diagnosis.
Yes, I can still get caught up in the STDM (stuff that doesn’t matter) but I don’t get as hopelessly entangled in it as I once did. (This is just a function of aging, too, one of the best benefits of having the good fortune of living long enough.) But I hope you and we emerge from this pandemic time better than before: Tough and tender. Strong and sensitive. Confident and humble. You’ll notice that I didn’t say “but” there, I said “and” quite intentionally. I think there is no reason these qualities should contradict one another.
May we emerge from this experience with more compassion for ourselves and each other. Bruised, battered and maybe a little seasick but in it. And for those who can’t be on the right side of history, who still need convincing that lives matter without justification, let us part ways if we can and gain sustenance from our tribe, the ones who nourish, protect and shine a light on a better way to treat and care for one another.
Oh, this time has been so very real.
May 2022 bring us more of the good stuff we all need.
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