I don’t really like to make a big deal about my birthday. I’m not big on receiving gifts and I definitely don’t like big gatherings of people, especially if they are gathering to focus on me. So, I was trying to figure out how to acknowledge my birthday in a way that felt meaningful to me. Birthday’s always struck me as a good time to both reflect on my past as well as consider the future I’m working towards. Thus, my personal birthday tradition: a yearly blog post wherein I reflect on my last year, anticipate my coming year, and try to contextualize it within the larger arc of my whole life.
Right off the bat, it’s interesting to me that it’s taken me 35 years to think about what I actually want out of my birthday.
During my 35th year, over 3 million people in the world died from COVID-19. Half-a-million died in the US. In just this last year, 19 unarmed black people have been killed by police. I will say their names:
Daunte Demetrius Wright
Marvin David Scott III
Patrick Lynn Warren, Sr.
Vincent “Vinny” M. Belmonte
Andre Maurice Hill
Casey Christopher Goodson, Jr.
Angelo “AJ” Crooms
Jonathan Dwayne Price
Dijon Durand Kizzee
Tony “Tony the TIger” McDade
George Perry Floyd
Dreasjon “Sean” Reed
Michael Brent Charles Ramos
As I’m writing this, I can call to mind three mass shootings (FedEx; Bryant, TX; Boulder, CO) that have happened in just the last month. I cannot be confident I’m not missing any.
It’s already hot and dry. There was a burn advisory in effect in Lane County this last week. Already. I fear that means more fires this summer. A continuation of the blazes that devastated the Pacific Northwest last year. We’ll be more prepared this year.
It has been a lot. I do not think this next year will see fewer crises. Reflecting on my daily life, though, my privilege is undeniable. This has been one of the most content years of my life. I have found fulfillment and I’ve lived my life pretty authentically.
Working from home all year while following pandemic precautions has been the best work experience I’ve ever had. I’ve already decided that I will only be tutoring remotely from now on. Once physical distancing precautions are lifted in schools, it will make sense for me to return to on-site teaching. In the meantime, though, I’ve been able to find new and successful ways to provide remote math intervention support for students.
Cole has also been working from home and it has been wonderful to see each other throughout the day. We get to check in multiple times a day and have lunch together on a regular basis. It’s just great. I’m going to miss it when I have to leave the house for work.
All of this time in our little nest, distanced from the rest of the world, has allowed me to focus on releasing myself of other people’s expectations. So many practices and priorities that seemed indispensable turned out to be merely habit and convenience. I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s actually important to me. I’ve realized that I’m probably about 40-50% of the way through my life. That means that there are certain trajectories I just can’t solve for now.
It really settled in this year that I am small and the universe is vast and time is long. Nothing matters except what we decide matters because we’re the only ones it matters to. Perfection is not at all related to satisfaction. Productivity is *not* a moral imperative. Doing a little is always better than intending to do a lot.
Just sitting and breathing is a meaningful use of time. So, while every moment that passes is one more grain through the hourglass, not every moment that passes must be put to some use. My life feels very stable right now and I want to enjoy that.
My 36th year, then, will be about enjoying and taking advantage of that stability. My goals for my next year are pretty straightforward. I want to spend more time with people because we’ll all be vaxxed. I want to finish and release the app Cole and I have been developing–it’s really close. I want to finalize the beta of the tabletop game Cole and I are developing, then we’ll put together a few beta copies to distribute to people. I want to continue to save money towards buying a place with Cole. I want to keep building my mileage and get to the point of being able to do a 10 mile run again. Nothing grandiose. Just quiet and persistent.
I’m very happy with my life right now. I feel like I’ve obtained something I’ve been striving for for many years. I’m going to allow myself to be content for a little while.