I took this the day the fire started in Bridgeport, just up the road from us. As the thick black smoke started to make it's way up over the mountain in to the sky above us, threatening. menacing. And yet, the reason I love this picture is the juxtaposition. It's thick smoke and blue sky, all in the same photo. I thought, "Isn't this the perfect picture to depict 2020!"
This year has been a year of huge devastation. Hundreds of thousand of lives lost. Thousands of companies out of business. Cancelled or postponed weddings. family trips. vacations. Fires. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Explosions. Smoke. Divorces. Break-ups. Loss of jobs. No one can argue it's been a little bit insane. AND. This has also been a year of huge gain! New insights. New jobs. Businesses thriving. Exploring in the kitchen. Getting out of bad relationships. Getting engaged. Intimate weddings with family. Connecting with people in a whole new way all over the world. Babies born. Marriages saved or strengthened. Discovery of new places in your own state or backyard. Family roadtrips. Heck, just time together as a family. Moving to places you've always wanted to. More time.
It's easy when so much devastation happens to get focused on just that- on all the negative, hard, challenging things about this year. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's human nature. Maybe it's this new time of social media and the influx of information pouring into our minds every second. Maybe it's the way our culture has been shaped over time. Whatever the reason, it seems many of us tend to focus on all the things that are wrong in the world. I know this is my M.O. So, this year, I've been working this year to interrupt that, to say no to annoyance and yes to acceptance, yes to what's good in life.
As I've learned and watched myself and worked to make shifts, what I'm seeing is, the more I focus on the good, the more I tend to find good. The more I focus on the bad, the more I tend to find bad. It's simply a shift of attention.
The other thing I'm discovering? There is a plethora of BOTH in this world. There are tons of good things that happen. every single day. There are also tons of bad things that happen. Also every single day. Just because we look for the good and find good doesn't we are immune to bad things happening. And vice versa, just because we are in a bad space doesn't mean that good things will never happen. It's the beauty and juxtaposition of life. It's like that phrase I used to hear all the time, "Life would be so boring if it was good all the time." Even now as I type that, I wonder, "Really? Wouldn't life be great, though?" Maybe. And. I think about all the times really really wonderful things have happened to me, and many times, they come after a bad time, a time of devastation or loss. My parents divorced... years later they found partners better suited for them that love them deeply and that I now love. Tim and I nearly ended our marriage 5 years in... now I feel a deeper love for him than ever. I said goodbye to a job I loved... my own business is now thriving. We left a community of wonderful loving people... we found a new community of loving people, and are still connected to our old one.
These are just a few examples of so many and I'm hoping you started to think of some of your own in hearing mine. Struggling and working through life is what makes the good moments that much sweeter!
We can't really feel joy or love or ecstasy without also feeling sadness and despair and displeasure. We have to make space for both, and I would argue... we already have the space for both within us.
We are capable of holding both. Sometimes in the same moment. I could be so joyful to watch my mom get remarried and also so sad at the loss of our old family. This sort of thing often reminds me of the Pixar movie Inside Out (if you haven't seen it... it's a must watch!) and how often our core memories hold way more than one emotion. It's what make us human.
Anybody remember the old quote that got passed around Instagram last year that said, "Let the tears you cried in 2019 water the seeds you've planted for 2020?" It still applies. We've planted the seeds, and now we are in the growth zone. It's hard and messy and sometimes things don't sprout or they grow weird, or they get disease. They almost die and make comebacks. Some things grow bigger than we ever thought possible. Sometimes what we thought would do well doesn't and we have to go back to the drawing board. Sometimes those seeds are just under the surface and we can't see them yet, even though they are there. Growth isn't linear and it's often messy, much like growing plants (I'm a farmer... I'm always thinking in farm analogies). It can be unpredictable. Infuriating. And also so life giving.
And so, my friends, this is your reminder that yes, 2020 has been...a challenging year. And it's also been a beautiful one. We are in the phase of growth, and it's time embrace all the unpredictable messy, crazy, wonderful, weird things that have come and will continue to come our way, knowing that things good thing are happening, even when we can't see them.