Stop Dissing 2019

Good and bad things will happen every year.

Posted Dec 31, 2019

I've reached my max. Time spent on social media in the past 24 hours shows numerous posts with some variation of "Good riddance to 2019," or "2019 sucked, hope the next year is better." The thing is, I have witnessed this every year.

Why post only dread about the past 365 days and hopefulness for the next 365? It's almost like letting the calendar rule our lives and attitudes. Or perhaps it's like letting Outlook create our outlook. 

Maddi Bazzocco/Unsplash
Source: Maddi Bazzocco/Unsplash

The truth is, there's always joy, and there's always sorrow. There's always light, and there's always darkness. There's always kindness, and there's always cruelty. There's always beauty, and there's always messiness. That is life. It's all about juxtaposition. 

As a survivor growing up with abuse, I learned that lesson early. In my forthcoming book, I write about my adoring and abusive father. He was both.

I write about my love and my rage. There's both. I write about my holding on and my letting go of—my father, my mother, my ex-husband, my current partner, my sense of self, my sense of home, etc. There's always both.

I write about memory and blank space. There's both. I write about trauma and healing. There's both. I write about grief and healing. There's both. 

There's always room for both.

I've learned that some years feel heavier, and some years feel lighter. But every year is filled with weighty matter and with levity. 2012 taught me that. I left my marriage, moved across the country, my father died, and just three days later, I started a new job (my current job), met my best woman friend that very same day, and three and a half months later, met my current partner. It was a year filled with overwhelming heartache and loss, and as I see it now, even more overwhelming joy. 

Reflecting on the past year and looking toward the next is not a zero-sum game. One of the biggest challenges we face as human beings is to hold two contradictory realities at the very same time. I was just reminded of this the other day. A man with whom I worked for many years and totally adored died on Christmas Day; he was a force to be reckoned with, and it almost seemed fitting that he would die on such a larger-than-life sort of day.

A couple of days later, I learned that the mother of a friend of mine died; this is a friend I have not seen in years and am mainly in touch with on Facebook, yet seeing her posts for the past few weeks showed me the terrible beauty of grief and love. As she mourns her mother, she celebrates her; as she lost her mother's physical presence, she was simultaneously reassured by her mother's very essence, as she made latkes for Chanukah, using her mother's recommendations and claiming they had never tasted that good. Just as my friend lost the very person who gave her sustenance and nourishment, she found a way to sustain and nourish herself. 

No day or year is uniformly awful or uniformly amazing. Every year—every day—has the possibility of bleakness and the promise of brightness. Cheers to a strong and gentle 2020!