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. 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.