I don’t know where to start with you. The year began with unemployment and is ending with underemployment. In January I was engaged, and in December I find myself separated and unsure whether to stay in a near decade-long relationship. I missed grandpa’s final days and funeral, two weddings (many more cancelled), and too many holidays, occasions, and gatherings to count. Loved ones have fallen seriously ill, lost jobs, are struggling to parent, maintain small businesses, keep families together and more. Before you I felt balanced, sure, and clear. Now the highs are rare and lows lasting, doubt is creeping in at every edge, and clouds hover on the horizon on my mind. I struggle to know whether you are a magnifying glass, revealing what was already present, or an outlier so extreme you should be excluded from any calculus or decision.
I’m still trying to discover the lesson, the gift, the silver lining in you, but I haven’t. Perhaps it’s finding peace and acceptance despite discomfort? Growing compassion through feeling others’ pain we wouldn’t otherwise? Becoming aware of the inequities that are pervasive in societal systems worldwide? Slowing down, paring back, doing without, discovering the “essential?”
I hope the day comes when I have a greater understanding of what I’m meant to learn from you. Today is not that day. Today I am exhausted, downtrodden, and lackluster. Hope appears in dim and infrequent glimpses. The shapes of people, places, and things that create the negative space I fill are fading and distorted, altering my own shape. The net of connection and experiences that catch and lift me is slack under the weight of distance and inability to imagine, plan, and look forward. Speaking of the future, maybe tomorrow will be that day – only 24 of you remain, and I’m definitely counting.