My best friend sent me a holiday package this year that included paper cranes she had made with her children, her warm wishes for the new year. I felt her absence and her presence simultaneously; I felt her love from afar. From a purely personal perspective, as I’ve written elsewhere, 2020 treated me far better than 2019 — but that’s a bar so low, it’s essentially just a rung or two up the ladder from the molten core widely known as hell. Like many, I hope the lessons of the past 10+ months are well and thoroughly learned, and I intend to cite one of them in a future post. Meanwhile, also like many, I’m ready to embrace 2021. Frohes Neues, everyone.
It’s the time of year here when trees look picked over, gardens seem bereft and bedraggled, and skies are frequently gray. So as I was walking along recently, I found this color arresting. It promptly landed on my list of things to be thankful for, a list that has been especially abundant this year and includes family, friends, mentors old and new, and, still, the excellent consultation I had last September at Mass General, which gave me hope and ongoing reason to reinvest in my life. If you’ve ever wanted to hug a neurosurgeon while crying dazed and ecstatic tears, you might be vibing to my frequency. I’m thankful for the friend who drove me there and the receptionist who was kind and even the elevators, the hallways, the glass doors, the parking garage. I hate parking garages! But that one helped deliver me from hell back to life on earth. I’m grateful for a screenshot of my parents on Zoom, hugging while wearing the scarves that I made them, my father’s a decade old or so, lingonberry-red, my mother’s new and pinky-purple like a type of orchid. I’m thankful they’ve been untouched by COVID. I’m thankful for your reading this, which is why it’s short—time is valuable! I’m thankful for Nick Hornby, whose novels got me through the worst of election season. I’m thankful for income and inspiration—also for coffee on the daily, and my new favorite source: Grounds for Change. Take a moment and click that link to find out how truly wonderful they are. I have zero financial interest in the company; my only interest is in wanting to see them and every high-quality, deeply principled business continue their good work in the world—work that benefits the people (who, in this case, produce the beans) as well as the ecosystems they live and labor in. Sustainability for all—it doesn’t get better than that.
No person can avoid, actually, factually, being human. But a person can be unconscious of those things that make us human – including our flaws and complexities, our interconnectedness with each other and the ecosystem, and our mortality. A person can choose unconsciousness of those things in the most willful and damaging of ways, cultivating “success” without inner growth, “status” without a generative legacy. I have carried the ugliness and violence of this administration as stress in my body since 2016, and I am not alone in that. Relief sweetened my sleep last night. I’m ready for evident self-awareness and conscious humanity in office. I hope the next four years are just the beginning of a better world for us all, people animals plants land water air, no exceptions.