Dumpster Fires and Gratitude
Wow. Is it really the last day of the year already? 2020 seems like a blurry bad dream that I managed to get through relatively unscathed…
Wow. Is it really the last day of the year already? 2020 seems like a blurry bad dream that I managed to get through relatively unscathed. There are battle wounds to be sure, all mental, as I’ve been fortunate enough to still have my health. Bearing witness to a non-stop barrage of very bad things has certainly left me feeling weary.
Ordinarily I’d be reflecting on the past year and contemplating what I want to accomplish and improve on in the new year. This time around I admit I’m just not sure what to think or say. We all know it has been a dumpster fire of a year. You don’t need me to remind you. I’ll try to be a bit more upbeat.
As I sat contemplating how I could sum up the year for me, one word comes to mind. Gratitude. In spite of the chaos and uncertainty of 2020, I still have what I started the year with for the most part — my health, my wife, my home, and my job. So many others can’t say the same. I’m heartbroken by the profound loss so many people have had to endure. I take nothing for granted. I’m thankful and grateful for what I have.
Even considering the loss this year of a couple of friends and my dear dog, Lucy, I am grateful for the years we had together. Loss strikes without warning. We have now. The next moment isn’t a guarantee. This is reality and reality owes us nothing.
My main photography passion is live music. The pandemic sure put a damper on that. As a result, I took a minimal number of pictures in 2020. It feels like a failing in some ways. Maybe I could have adapted to photograph something else. Nothing felt right though and I wasn’t going to force it. I spent my time instead curating my library and printing a number of books. I gave a few to people who I knew would appreciate them. I saw my work make people cry, in a good way. I’m grateful I could do that for them.
I poured myself into my work and I made it through several semesters of classes. Hopefully I’ll finish a computer science degree I’ve been working on in the summer. I’m grateful that I have an employer, a wife, and friends who support me in my efforts here.
In late 2019, I purchased a bass guitar (I have 2 now actually, but who’s counting.) This dumb drummer has never played a melodic instrument and I hoped to spend some free time this year learning to play it. Outside of my work and studies, I was in a mental funk most of the year. I’d pick up a guitar and try to practice here and there, but no real progress was made. It was more of a frustration than anything. Over the holidays, I picked up a book of bass music for The Beatles and started learning some songs. I caught myself smiling, genuinely smiling, for the first time in a long time as I bumbled through McCartney’s melodic bass lines. Music truly has great power. I’d forgotten that and I’m grateful to have rediscovered it.
I do hope 2021 treats us better and that we all learn to treat each other better. May you find peace, health, love, and gratitude in the new year.
Originally published at https://michaelconnell.writeas.com on January 1, 2021.