2022 has to be a better year.
We’ve all heard it. We’ve all said it. 2020 and 2021 were horrible years, complete and total losses.
We were optimistic, even if cautiously so, that 2022 was going to be better. We had hope for this brand new set of twelve months. We were betting on 2022 being the redemption year for all of us who had survived the prior two. We had plans to travel, exercise, get a new job, see people, hit the ground running and live our best lives.
But, here we are barely into the new year and… well it feels like rinse and repeat of the two that broke our hearts before. It feels like a giant practical joke from the natural forces. “No, no,” the Universe seemed to say, “just kidding. It doesn’t get better.”
To be clear, 2022 doesn’t feel all that redemptive. It didn’t feel redemptive three minutes past midnight and it doesn’t feel redemptive now. In the first eighteen days of 2022, I have lost people, I have friends who have lost people. A co-worker’s father was killed in a terrible accident on the day we returned from the holidays.
Upon learning that we were going to go remote again as we did in 2020, an associate said “2022 sucks already!” Another wailed, “It is hopeless. I give up. I’m going to go back to eating crap, let my ex-boyfriend move back in, and spend my savings at the casino.” The idea being that 2022 had started off badly, so we might as well go into survival mode and hope for January 1, 2023.
Last evening I learned that a friend of 50+ years, quite possibly the sweetest most generous woman on the planet, succumbed to COVID-19. I was greeted this morning with a message from another friend that her Daddy passed away last night. It seems I know more people with COVID than without. The Governor announced that, while we are going to continue to school children in the class, we don’t really have enough teachers to do that.
All these things made me feel hopeless. The grief was too much. The sadness and disappointment were making me an emotional cripple before the sun was even up. I considered canceling my yoga class, giving a pass to my sunrise meditation, skipping my morning writing, and making myself a really unhealthy breakfast. I wanted to tell my boss I just wasn’t going to show up today. I didn’t really have it in me.
But, one thing I’ve learned is that the things you don’t really want to do, are probably the ones you should do (as long as they aren’t harmful). So, I got out my journal and my yoga mat. I pulled up a favorite self-love meditation on my phone and did my work. As I lay in my savasana, I realized I felt better. I was glad I fought through the grief and sadness, if just for that hour.
So, I thought, what if instead of putting all my hopes in a year, I take my expectations down a few notches? What if, instead of expecting a good year, I try for a good day or even a good half hour? I lost my Daddy in 2020 and our dog Myrna in 2021, but there were other things scattered throughout that were wonderful. Completely writing off both years, negates the blessings that were there. If I started counting individual moments of joy, could I recover my hopefulness?
Maybe instead of saying, “2020 and 2021 were awful years and 2022 doesn’t hold out much hope,” I can change the narrative to a more accurate statement. The years 2020 and 2021 presented me with some very trying situations that broke my heart. Then I can remember the joyful moments like releasing baby sea turtles in Mexico, watching my little sister cross the finish line in the Oklahoma City Marathon, receiving a text from my beloved that was so loving and supportive I had to take a screen shot and save it, watching my oldest grandson pitch in a championship game, making fudge with my younger grandchildren, standing outside to gaze at a stunning harvest moon, and sitting perfectly still in a field while a yellow butterfly took her leisure on my knee.
I have big plans for 2022 in making my three biggest dreams come true. But what if I don’t? There are 525,600 minutes in a year; about a half million opportunities to experience something joyful. I think this is what Buddha meant when he said “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” It is this moment right now that makes up life. It is the only one we can count on. If I start counting moments instead of years, if I ingest them each individually rather than gobble them all up as as one, I have faith that 2022 and every year to follow, will be a win.
I have to believe that, I simply have to.