*Warning: This is one of my classic “lengthy” posts, something I intend to curtail with the use of an updated blog schedule and writing outline in 2017. But for today, it is what it is – because we are still in 2016. So, please choose to read this how and when you want. I suggest doing so while sitting down, with a cup of tea (coffee, cocoa, or something stronger) and plenty of time to take in (mull over, respond to, or totally dismiss) what I have to say.*
That “Last” Post
Intending my post on Christmas day to be the “last” written for this year, I chose Stevie Wonder’s song “Someday at Christmas” to sum up how the accumulated personal, national, and global events of 2016 caused me (and, I’m sure, others like me) to have moments of despair and yet still be hopeful for the day when I, along with humanity, will get it together and find peace. And, at what better imagined time for that future “coming of peace” to happen than on Christmas. It’s a holiday so widely celebrated (for both religious and commercial reasons) it often seems as though the whole world is momentarily filled with the same spirit of goodwill, love, and hope.
I mean, everyone knows every good song and story (particularly around that holiday) is based on this premise – A Christmas Carol quickly comes to mind, for example. The hope in both this mentioned song and story is that we will come to our senses before our collective clock runs out of time, before we are too late to undo the injustices, mistakes, environmental damages, and conditions of poverty, hunger, and violence that we created or caused for ourselves and future generations. No doubt, in 2016 it’s been a real struggle to hold onto that hope, but faith requires nothing less than that from us.
So, after feeling pretty satisfied with my “Someday at Christmas” message, I spent much of Christmas day on my blog being overly productive writing and scheduling new posts, updating images and pages, and outlining a more focused 2017 approach for maintaining this and my other online side projects. Later, that evening I took “a break” to check my Facebook newsfeed, and that’s when I learned that George Michael…
Pop music icon of the ’80’s and ’90’s George Michael…
“Last Christmas” George Michael…
MY George Michael….had passed away….that day.
How self-absorbed was I to miss this news.
This “Last” Post
Which brings me to today and a slightly different reflection on hope and time. If my first “last” post was based on “Christmas holiday” optimism, this last “last” one is based more on “New Year’s eve” realism. Because as someone who came of age during George Michael’s height of fame in the US, he and his music represented a significant chunk of my life – adolescence – and all the super emotional memories of insecurity, awkwardness, infatuation, hormones, bravery, friendship, and loneliness I had wrapped up in many of his lyrics, vocals, looks, and sighs.
To be honest, I remember a couple of times over the years where I tried to create an actual soundtrack of my life, a playlist of music connected to potent moments or specific periods of growth – like for a movie, cause that’s how I see life really… as one epic movie. So, in that frame, George Michael’s music marked my preteen and teenage years, for sure, with other parts of my soundtrack including the music of Prince and Glenn Frey and even Merle Haggard – artists who also passed away in 2016. And increasingly with each of their deaths, I felt the pieces of my life connected to their songs were somehow dying with them – or rather, I was being forced to account for all the memories I was holding on to, struggling to carry into each new year as life continued to add to their weight with the creation of new ones.
And that’s when I realized, while in the midst of a self-mandated YouTube marathon of Wham! and George Michael videos, that this year has been as much about me praying for time and learning to let go as it has been about struggling to keep my hope and faith alive.
We all know death awaits us in the end, and we have seen that point reiterated over and over in 2016. Leaders of countries, renowned writers and journalists, legendary athletes, pop stars and musicians, refugees and tourists, everyday people – young and old, innocent or guilty – have all met that same fate… at times, shockingly so this year. If you’ve been paying attention, it causes you to stop and take into account your own life and deeds and unfinished goals and dreams. And, if you’re still paying attention, you realize the fragility of everything around you – every person, every system of government, every sunrise, every clean breath you take, every ability to walk and eat and poo on your own (yes, I said it). Every blessing of life whether taken or not for granted. Everything.
Coming to this realization should cause a serious shift in thought and action.
For me, this meant two things.
First, it was time I started letting go:
- of the hurtful criticizing voices in my head,
- of the perceived “failures” in my past,
- of fear of potential, of possible, and of all the unknowns to come,
- of society’s outdated views on who I should be, how I should look, and what I should be doing by “this” age,
- of the “younger version” images of my parents who are now in their 80’s (and still recovering from a difficult 2015 and 2016 of sibling deaths and their own serious health scares), and
- of my long-held career and life plans that no longer make sense for the woman I’ve become, the experiences I’ve had thus far, the calling I feel on my life, and the personal legend my heart drives me to follow.
In case you’re wondering how, exactly, I purged all of this from my system – let’s just say I never experienced crying before the way I did in those two days. Therapeutic, yes. Non-stop, absolutely. Dehydrating, very. And I pray not to ever let my emotional baggage build up to that level again.
And, speaking of prayer, second, I realized it was time I began praying… many prayers.
I pray that, as people, as a nation, and as a world, we can reach some common ground, some consensus, some level of love before there’s none left to find or no time to find what’s left. I pray that, as an individual, I will not to let another minute or day pass without living in my truth. And, as mentioned before, I pray to figure out healthy ways to let go of emotional baggage before another dam breaks.
Worrying, stressing, wishing, or regretting things that had or hadn’t happened is such a major waste of time. And you can’t get that precious gift back once it’s gone. Nor can you put off being your “true” self until after you’ve reached certain milestones in life – wealth, career status, retirement, or fulfilled expectations you believe others have of you. Because, again, you’re allowing valuable time to pass being someone else’s idea of “you” with no guarantee you’ll have any time later in life to be your idea of “you.”
2016, In Summary
Of course, what I’ve written is all simple truth and wisdom. But though we – including me – have heard this said many times before, it never really rings true for us until we own it to be true for ourselves.
So, as I’ve seen many do in different formats over the last week, I will summarize 2016 by saying for me it has been a struggle in maintaining my hope that everything will work out for the best. It has also been a revelation in letting go of all that’s been holding me back so that I could be a fearlessly true version of myself moving forward. And, finally, this year has been about praying for time.
With that, I couldn’t think of a better way to close out this post and year than by sharing one of George Michael’s most remarkable and intensely prophetic songs, Praying for Time. Thank you.
2017 and Beyond, In Prayer
It is my hope that all will be faithful and resilient enough to keep the “holiday spirit” of goodwill and love alive throughout the year in spite of whatever natural or man-made disasters occur… or the harmful effects those events and negative actions have on us all. And that I, as a person designed by the Creator to fill a specific space and need in the world, will remain faithful and resilient in living out that truth. And that our world will have enough time to make amends for wrongs done, to properly give thanks for life’s blessings, to change lifestyle patterns for a healthier and happier quality of being, and to learn lessons from the past in order to prevent committing similar or the same mistakes in the future.