Blessings in the Dark

Thursday , 1, January 2015 Leave a comment

I’ve been planning for weeks to write a New Year’s post.  It was going to be a New Year’s Eve post, but, seeing as I’ve (shockingly) let that deadline roll right on by, it looks like it’ll be a reflective post from the perspective of the new year.

Let’s just pretend that’s what I had planned all along. (ha)

Problem is that I can’t decide what to write about.  ‘Tis the season for people to offer their deep social commentary on the past year, both positively and negatively.  It’s also the season for the voicing of unsolicited viewpoints on new year’s resolutions.  Neither is my goal.

Yesterday a Facebook friend posted, “Well, 2014, what can I say? You dealt out a lot of icky crap, but the shit-stream carried some shiny nuggets of happiness…” (thanks Liz)  I have to admit that I snickered at how I can relate to the sentiment.  Part of me wants to tell 2014 not to let the door hit it in the butt on its way out as I quietly fume over being screwed by the universe during a 2014 that kicked my ass.

Thankfully, my quest to be more mindful draws me more to those “shiny nuggets” than to the, uh, “stream” that brought them to me.  Maybe because I want to focus on making 2015 a better year.  Maybe because it’s what Katie would want.  Maybe because a dear family friend reminded me a few nights ago that even from the worst of tragedy there’s always born some kind of good.

I keep thinking of the story “Light” by Brian Andreas, the genius behind the StoryPeople:

There is a perfectly still moment right before dawn, when the sun gathers itself & then steps into the dark world & everything is so filled with light that any doubts from that long night are barely a memory. It is the way of all things that night ends & the light returns.  The light always returns.

There were many moments of light during the darkness of the last year:  I got back in touch with Kriste (my college roommate), shared special time with family in Iowa, visited Lauren during a great adventure to Denver with Clint, made a pilgrimage back to Omega, strengthened old friendships and made new ones, improved my relationship with my brother, worked with great students, and spent RAOKK Day with my mom.  And those are just a few of the highlights.

Through the darkness, I was also blessed with learning opportunities–those were certainly moments of light:

  • I learned that I’m far stronger than I give myself credit for.
  • I learned there are people all around me, near and far, who are willing to be there to support me at the drop of a hat.  I learned that accepting that love and support is necessary for my well-being.
  • I learned that I don’t always have to be strong.  Sometimes the strongest thing I can do is show my vulnerability.
  • I learned that I must take time for me if I want to be effective in any part of my life.  That has to be a priority even when it means disappointing other people.
  • I learned that, while no one will ever replace Katie, there are people in my life who can help fill roles that she played in my life.  That realization allowed tremendous amounts of light back into my life.
  • I learned that not everyone will understand me, and that’s ok.  Holding tight to the people who DO get it is so incredibly important.  So is letting them know how very important they are.
  • I learned that we’re all dealing with our own crap.  Being human is hard.  Sometimes people need pats on the back just for having the courage to face another day.
  • I learned that I don’t have to be a fabulous artist to paint–I can do whatever makes me happy.
  • I learned that life isn’t fair.  For real.  We hear that all the time, but this year I got hit up side the head with the reality of just how very true that is.  And how bad that unfairness can suck.
  • I learned that I can and will survive that “unfair life” suckiness.
  • I learned the power of a heartfelt apology.  Admitting when I screw up feels surprisingly good because it gives me the chance to make things right.
  • I learned that no day is guaranteed to us.  Life can and does change at the drop of a hat, and we have two choices–either stay stuck in a world that no longer exists (unhealthy by definition) or learn to roll with the change.

Yesterday another friend posted on Facebook, “I wish you all the strength to endure whatever happens in 2015 and the joy to know we are all in it together” (thanks Bill).  A year ago this time I had no idea what I’d have to endure in 2014.  I’d probably have tried hide for the year if I’d know what was ahead.

2014 did teach me, though, that we are all in this together.  I’m not alone, even in the moments that feel most lonely–if I’m open to allowing others into my life, they’ll be there.  And it showed me that there can be laughter and love even at the darkest of times.  I’ve had to learn that allowing the light isn’t equivalent to disrespecting the cause of the darkness–instead, it’s the moments of light that help us navigate the dark, to see that there’s life beyond the thickest of the darkness.

Maybe most importantly, I learned in one of the hardest ways possible that life is a privilege and that it’s my responsibility to make the most of whatever days I’m blessed enough to have.  With that, my head and heart are ready to step into the new year.

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