December of last year, I was crying in the parking lot of my therapist’s office. It was a rainy night – cold droplets sticking to the windshield from the upcoming freeze – and the clouds were hiding away the stars. Brandon Flowers’s voice was pouring through the speakers; it’s a song I still can’t hear without my hands shaking. Music has always had its important footnotes in the chapter titles of my life and this was one. Memories I hadn’t realized were hidden away in the concrete of my walls had made themselves known, ready to be chipped away. I had a chisel in my hand in form of a pen, a notebook (one of many empty ones impulsively bought that could finally be put to good use) in my bag waiting to bear the blunt of its tip. Insurance bills had made it known to me a couple days prior that my sessions at that point could not continue, so it was on my own to turn a barrier into a passage. It was time to let the weight go.
January proved to be a salve on the wound, bringing joy in the form of first trips to Disney and laughter and family. In March, I started a new job and I immediately felt at home and appreciated and felt my worth. Quickly thereafter, the world turned upside down and on fire and spiraled out of control. It was a good thing I was no stranger to solitude – being severely introverted and having clinical OCD certainly had me prepared for a global pandemic.
But we already know what went wrong, this year, don’t we?
And I’m tired. I’m tired of dwelling and recapping all this fear. I have barely watched the news lately – “2020: A Summary” – as if we need reminders of the trauma we have endured. For ten months, we have lived in fear of many things, in the constant mindset of death and destruction of not only a virus, but at the hands of our fellow man. Hope seemed too distant, as if the rest of the galaxy had just left us without the beauty of its stars, and we were left floating in the void, feeling forgotten.
But even in the darkest depths, when we are blinded by shadows, we forget we are not alone in our struggle and we still grow. If anything, this year taught us resilience and how to breathe through it. It taught us to spend each moment with our family members like it was our last. It taught us who our true friends were and family doesn’t necessarily mean blood ties. It taught us what we are capable if we are pushed enough. It taught us to fight for the love of one another. We may be glad to say goodbye to 2020, but I, for one, am grateful for the lessons it has left behind.
So, where do we go from here? How do we find ourselves out of the darkness? How do we pull out of that rainy parking lot with determination and purpose?
Tonight, things can change. Not overnight, no (anything worth fighting over takes work, after all). It can start with something as simple as finding a good song to make you smile – one that fills up your chest with that incomparable swelling of joy – writing something you wish you had the courage to say but didn’t, calling/texting someone you hadn’t spoken to in awhile, saying I’m sorry, I will, or even I won’t anymore. As the clock gets closer to midnight, remind yourself of what makes you happy, no matter how small, and do that thing, talk to that person, write out that plan. Hope can start out so small, but it can tether us through zero gravity. It’s okay to reach out for it. We’re all here, tumbling, holding out for someone to say it’s okay. So take the time tonight to reach, to hope, to squint for a star in the nearest or farthest of horizons. Perhaps we are all each other’s stars, each other’s light, waiting for the other. We want to be found and it’s only a matter of time before we gather close and make our galaxy anew.