Holy shit, 2014.
There is so much I could say in this space about you, so many stories I could tell the world now that you’re coming to a close and can no longer hurt me. I could talk about the terror of sudden poverty. I could recount the struggle of trying to hold my family together while all my loved ones sank deeper and deeper into their own suffering and fear and depression. I could talk about weakness and isolation, toxic relationships and the ghosts of old monsters haunting my memories.
But I don’t want to dwell on that. Every year has their horrors, and for all its’ troubles, 2014 still hasn’t been the worst year of my life. It’s been important though, and I want to commemorate that. When I’m older and distance makes measurements of time an abstract, arbitrary thing, I want to be able to remind myself that this collection of days called 2014 was significant.
For a few years now, I’ve felt like I’d been standing on the precipice of something important. But walls had been put up around me, trapping me in the too-small space they created and keeping me in the dark. And all the while, I could feel the enormity of what was outside those walls. I could feel the the blood-memory of open skies and rushing wind and sunlight and thunderstorms and it all woke something primal and hungry in me that I couldn’t satisfy. Someone once called them growing pains. Personally, I think it’s more like a plant that’s long outgrown the pot and the gardener was too lazy to transplant it to the ground. And boy do I know about laziness. But 2014 has had no patience for that and I think it’s made all the difference.
2014, you laid down the gauntlet and closed the way behind me so I couldn’t run. You’ve forced me to confront what I have and make the best of it. I’ve become a caretaker and found previously unknown depths of compassion and patience in myself. I’ve strengthened friendships and forged new paths. I’ve pushed the boundaries of my creativity and discovered that they are limitless so long as I stay out of my own way. I’ve taken leaps, submitted more stories, gotten published, started singing and acting again and reclaimed lost parts of myself. Somehow, 2014, within your merciless grasp I’ve become the sort of person I always wanted to be.
I’m writing this now because it’s the end of the year and we’ve just celebrated the Winter Solstice. In my family, we celebrate the Solstice with fire and food; small bits of illumination and sustenance to remind ourselves that all the terrors of the dark can be overcome. And we celebrate with friends because few of us overcome our darkness alone. 2014 has been a long cold night, but dawn is coming. Spring is coming. I am surviving this winter and it’s making me stronger, and when the cold and dark pass, I’ll use that hard won strength to flourish and be ready for when the seasons change again. 2014 has taught me how to survive the night, how to find the stars and make my own fire, how to not only keep going but to WANT to keep going.
2015 may be more of the same; another dark night, another long winter. But now I know how to get through it. I know how to find the light and warmth where I can, how to make it if it’s not forthcoming. Or maybe I’m wrong and spring is just around the next corner. What’s important is that either way, I’m ready. The walls are torn down. The sapling is transplanted and has taken root in the earth, cold though it be. I’m making it through the night.