2020 – Closing the Books

It’s cold and rainy here in San Antonio today. Not unlike the end of other years here but in perfect irony here, this is like no other year before in my memory. I will be driving tonight as there are incentives on the table I simply can’t pass up. And I can’t pass them up because if the response from Congressional leaders had been better, no one would be suffering financially or in any other way.

I thought my tolerance for conservative ideology died in an elementary school in Connecticut years ago when children and their teachers died in a hail of gunfire and no action was taken to enact policy and legislation to try and prevent that from happening again. But now that lack of tolerance has been filled with anger, rage, and pain at the response to this pandemic. The lies, the hypocrisy, the corruption, and the cruelty that have resulted in genocide, a genocide that won’t end for quite a while longer than it ever had to begin with.

To anyone reading this who identifies as conservative I want you to ask yourself if you believe that suffering is truly justified based on fear, or any other factor that you feel makes a person unworthy of life itself. Don’t talk to me or anyone else about this, just yourself. Ask yourself why you believed in lies and corruption and hatred. Ask yourself why the sight of the dead and the dying, and the pain of the survivors of this pandemic seems to mean nothing to you.

I have asked myself what my own feelings on pain and suffering truly are. And for me they are almost overwhelming, and I feel that’s a good thing. It means the fear I have carried for so many years is not real, the fear that I have shut off or reduced my emotional capacity. I’ve just learned to control it and manage it as best as I can with what little I have to work with. But to the depths of my soul, I don’t believe any form of suffering is justified, especially the suffering of the innocent, the poor, and those deemed unworthy.

In this past year I have been reading more about the life and work of Jesus Christ to try and go beyond my childhood memory of him as just a kind and gentle storyteller. I have learned Christ’s message was to love one another wholly and completely in order to ease pain and suffering in this world. Christ didn’t live among the rich and influential. He lived and spoke among the least of society, the poor, the sick, the oppressed, and the sad and lonely. He lived life as a poor man with no material possessions or a home of his own. He showed love and mercy in ways I can’t begin to understand but aspire to nonetheless. To me, I see Him in the homeless groups under the bridges and freeways here. I see Him beside people in the hospitals dying alone, and in homes beside those turned away from hospitals.

In this last year, I have felt so powerless, a feeling I have felt for most of my adult life and I’m only able to deal with it because of my experience. I feel I am one tiny soul in a huge Universe, one tiny voice in a cacophony of billions. I have struggled

hard to find my worth as a person, to tell myself every time I can that my thoughts and feelings matter.

This was the year I had hoped to get up on my feet and on my way once and for all. Instead, I was knocked on my ass so hard I slid across the floor and hit the wall. But I got up off the floor, stood tall as I could. I voted for the best candidates that I know are compassionate people. I have said and written things I haven’t taken back. I have learned I can truly stand up for myself even if I still feel fear, fear that I will always have with me. Most of all, I haven’t given up on life itself, not just mine, but for everyone else.

I am ready to put miniscule resources into action and make my dreams come true. I have simple dreams: a house on wheels, a self-supporting career of writing and other creativity, and most of all, hope. I have wanted to give up on this world at times but I know I can’t do that because if I do, then I give up hope. And no matter how sad and lonely I have been, that hope has always remained with me. Hope has never given up on me and I will never give up on it.

Hope can come from joy and happiness, even as it can come from pain and grief. Hope is life itself. It’s the light that breaks over the horizon every morning and comes after the darkest and most painful nights. Hope is the calm after raging storms of anger and sadness. Hope is what comes after the pain of loss begins to ease off your heart and soul.

There is no shame or guilt in feeling and believing in hope. And if anyone tries to bring shame and guilt to you, don’t take it from them. Don’t let anyone on this Earth dictate what you think and feel. Because in the end, you have to figure things out for yourself. And maybe you’ll have to go at life alone. That’s okay, it can be done and not just in terms of survival, but in finding a life to live.

So to close the book on 2020 I will say this: we have learned about grief and pain in ways we didn’t know before. And now as we end this year, we have to find our own road to move forward in life. That road won’t always be easy, but it’s always there for us to travel on. Because when one story ends, another one always begins. Make it a good one.

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