Today is the first day of 2021. A new year. Full of hope that it won’t be as bad as last year, and just about everyone would say (and is saying—a lot!) that 2020 was a bad year and good riddance! Well, I agree. It hadn’t begun that way. For me, 2020 meant clear vision, and I thought that we would all end up having, at least, some clearer vision, and we would all see the errors in our ways and all would come together, a unified country. A unified world. Of course, that’s always my hope for any new year or any new day. But, that isn’t how the year turned out. In fact, it was the opposite, in many ways.
I’m not going to look back at all the horrible things that happened during the year. Lord knows we’ve seen it enough, a little like replaying one of my other least favorite years, 1968, during which, for me, the only good thing that happened was the birth of my first child. That year, as I recall, there were assassinations, riots, and upheavals all over the world. And I wondered, will we ever recover from this? The world had gone mad.
No, I’m not going to look back, and I’m going to do what everyone is doing, now, and look forward to a better time. However, in doing that, I realize that I’m not doing justice to something that is actually more important than the future. And that is the now. The present moment. If I neglect this moment, I am trying too hard to rush through the precious moments of life that can create that better future. When the pandemic started, I wanted to say to everyone to wake me when it’s over. I’ll be in my office. Just send me a text and I’ll come out. But that was dumb. With my head planted firmly in the ground, that’s all I saw—a dark, deep hole in the ground, not appreciating the opportunities available for improving my life or the lives of others. In all that darkness, I forgot to open my eyes because of the fear that permeated my every cell. Yes, the fear, and at times, the fear of fear. And what is fear but projecting your thoughts away from the moment, the now?
So, how can we banish the fear and the darkness in 2021?
Breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Focus on each moment, each day, not at the future or the past. Look deeply at your world, your immediate world. The one you’re in, the one that is smack dab in front of you. Right now, for example, I’m enjoying the furry body on my lap, feeling the weight of all fifteen pounds of her against my jeans, her own breath, her own purring enjoyment of being close. And if I just look a little to the right and upward, I can see the gnarled branches of the tree outside my window without cursing its lack of leaves. For now, the bareness lets me see the blue jay resting there, and if I look just a little farther, I can see Grizzly peak, covered in snow. And it’s very, very quiet now. Except for Gordy’s strumming of his guitar in the other room.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Hope is now.