A Year of Firsts. And Lasts.
I haven’t written a blog post for a while.
First, it was getting hard for me to not write about the election or race or inequality or the pandemic or, well, anything that you might read and say: “yeah, we get it Marc – deep thoughts, existential crisis, yadda, yadda, yadda.” I can’t promise you that now, I have found a lighter heart – only a somewhat more patient and less tormented one.
Second, I was processing a lot of thoughts about things that were, and to some extent still do, require a lot of processing and working out. In fact, I was writing but not for a blog and not for anything I’m ready to share, or at least yet.
(As an aside -for those of you who beat yourself up for not writing enough, realize that all that thinking you are doing in the shower or while navigating the paper goods aisle – those little notes you write down on pieces of ripped envelopes or jot down somewhere on your laptop only to take you an hour to find again – all of that counts.)
Now, though, on the edge of closing out an unprecedented year like 2020 (or at least unprecedented in most of our lifetimes) and about to begin another, it seemed like it was the right time.
Personally, this year has ripped me open, apart and inside-out. My mother died. Unexpectedly. I am still working through it, to be honest. Writing. Thinking. Processing. The hardest parts for me are the sounds – maybe because I pay so much attention to sound – in music, and speech. I recall all the moments that woke me from a sleep – literally and metaphorically – and continued to sound the alarm – my dad’s voice on that fateful phone call, the sharp, metallic beeping of the hospital monitors, the wheezing of the ventilator, the gurney wheels rolling in the hall while waiting in the lobby, the sound of dirt hitting the casket. Need there be more?
And then, everywhere I turned or looked I couldn’t stop hearing her voice – still can’t. Furthermore, moments when it seemed to quiet down were filled with other signs of death from a pandemic that seemed both right around the corner and, at the same time, an entire universe away. At times, it was silence punctuated by the blowing of the heater downstairs or laughter coming from my daughters room or my son on the X-box. All signs of life but still so confined.
When I reflect on this year, it seems that the inevitable reality of life, and of death, just catapulted to the head of the line. Where December typically brings thoughts of what we did, who we saw, where we went and how we lived, this December is more about what we have and what we lost. It is, after all, a year of firsts and of lasts, as is any other year if you really think about it. This time, though, there weren’t the usual distractions.
I usually think of firsts and lasts, as the gains and the losses, respectively. The truth is that there are firsts and lasts on both sides of the equation. We try things out for the first time. We learn difficult things about ourselves or people we care about for the first time. We spend time with people we love for the last time. We also decide to move on and not put up with something or someone that weighs us down – for the last time. Each year, each moment, really, has the potential to be a first or a last. It’s quite incredible when you think about it because the truth is, you really never know. Ever.
For 2021, I am not as focused on the list of what I hope to accomplish. Rather, now it is time to focus on what I must experience and wake up to – each day, maybe each moment – a long thread of firsts and lasts, interwoven between joy and sorrow and each a reminder that eventually, all firsts will become a last, for better or worse. The potential for the New Year lies not in any resolution or goal but rather in the constant reminder for all of us to pay attention – deeply, profoundly and with complete awe.
Until next time,