I would like to change my answer, Alex.
But before looking ahead, there's a bit of housekeeping that I must attend to. Something that I mentally parked before New Year's that needs attention. I had hoped to write this up prior to 1/1, but throwing a NYE party whilst contracting the King Kaiju of chest colds took way too much time and attention.
Upon Further Consideration...Around Christmastime, I replied to a meme-question that showed up in my Facebook feed. I considered the question for maybe five seconds, thought back on the year that was and typed "survived" with a shrug. And that flippant one-word quip seemed to resonate with people.
But the question itself wouldn't let go of me and the more I ruminated, the more I realized that "survived" wasn't the truth... maybe a tiny piece of the truth... but nowhere near what I experienced in 2019. And I also reflected on how I said goodbye to 2018.
Yes, there was loss. There was grief. There was a catastrophic accident that left me temporarily handicapped and required surgery in order for me to walk again. But that does not describe the year. That doesn't begin to articulate what I experienced or why I have so much gratitude for the past twelve months. And attempting express a more expansive truth can often be difficult because we mere mortals tend to focus on the negative... on the deaths and the accidents and the unfortunate events without really paying attention to what else may be simultaneously unfolding.
But before we delve into that matter, let me pause and address two words from that original question: "proud" and "brag". I sit comfortably with neither. I take no pride in this past year and really don't have the urge to brag about events that I was not in control of... as if we're ever really in control of anything. No, I am simply grateful. I am grateful that the person I was becoming encountered the events that were unfolding and in the moment... through a mysterious and alchemical process... things changed... I changed... I grew and maybe got a little closer to truth... to who I actually am. And for that I'm grateful.
Fracturing one's ankle is not an experience I would recommend. It is painful. It is inconvenient. It will force you to rearrange your affairs in the short-term and it morphs seemingly insignificant tasks (showering, taking a crap, making a meal, etc) into major undertakings while leaving you unsure of how well you'll be able to move about after you heal. But there was much to be learned there as well. It is useful to occasionally have things taken away (hopefully on a temporary basis) - such as your ability to walk. There is too much in life to which we assume we are entitled. Walking up and down a set of stairs isn't a task that most of us ever really consider. What a blessing to finally be forced to stop and pay attention.
I experienced the death of my mother and then, two months later, my partner. I felt my heart break again and again in the midst of that. And from that experience, I learned that living with a broken heart is the only way to actually live... the only way to truly be alive. I also had to face the truth of death and bear witness as people that I loved made that transition. And in bearing witness, I began to fear death less. I was forced to see that death is always... always with us. It's not an unfortunate avoidable mishap. It's where we are all headed. And it's simply a transition... nothing more, nothing less. Yes, witnessing people who you love die is hard. But holding on and believing that any of this is permanent makes it much, much harder.
Through all of this, I came to the realization that loss, though painful, can create space if you let it. And space is essential for growth and change. Having something taken away may just be exactly what is required in the moment.
I do miss Martina. But I've also come to accept that her illness and passing were part of her own karmic unfoldment... which in turn is related to mine. The fact that our lives intertwined for a period made sense at some deep level. And the fact that she has moved on makes sense to me as well. She had finished with her time here - even though it seemed all too soon. And whatever I have left to do in this lifetime, it is meant to unfold without her being here with me... at least not in the way that she was. The space created by her passing is being filled in myriad ways, but it is informed by the imprint she left on my heart.
So, yes, I deeply feel the losses of 2019... and simultaneously experience gratitude for all that was gained last year. And I intuitively know that these gifts are exactly what I need in this moment as I move into the next phase of my life.
I'll close with a blessing... a wish for all of us in this nascent decade...
May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young.
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