*Fair warning: The end of the year always makes me crazy introspective, even under the best of circumstances.*
I went to an open mic night a couple weeks ago. We’ve been checking them out for Paxton (16 at the time of this writing), because he’s looking for local places to play his music. This one place we went, at an old church-turned-theater downtown, was really interesting. And I don’t mean “interesting” as a polite yet sarcastic way of saying it blew. I mean it really was interesting. All ages. All walks of life. All kinds of talents. There were poems and music, originals and covers. There was a little boy who sang a Bruno Mars song. There was a young woman who performed a rap that she’d written for a friend who’d died by suicide. There was a 75 year old comedian who I didn’t find particularly funny but respected like crazy for getting up there and doing his thing. There was a young girl who forgot the lyrics to her song, got swept up in her nerves, and stood there frozen and crying until two of her friends jumped onstage to help her finish. There was a room full of people giving nothing but massive amounts of love and support and encouragement for their fellow artists.
And the whole thing made my fragile little creative heart break and swell at the same exact time.
It was just like …. life. This being-a-human thing is so complex. The heartbreaking and the beautiful. The deepest of sorrow and the sweetest of elation. All captured and bottled and either tentatively eked out bit by bit, or forced out through a cataclysmic explosion. While friends stand by offering hugs, and encouragement, and “If you’re having trouble finishing your song, then dammit, I’m coming onto that stage and holding you up and singing for you until you’ve regained your own voice.”
Too. Many. Feelings.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who regularly reads my blog, but I’ve had a hard year. I’ve actually had one of the hardest years of my life. And it was one of those years where just when I thought I had some forward momentum going, something or someone else would completely kick out my footing, and I’d be once again scrambling for air. Hope. Despair. Serenity. Anguish. I don’t think I’ve left a single emotion untouched in 2016.
And now there are 10 days left in the year, and I’m reviewing, and I’m reflecting, and… I wanna say breathing, but really I’m gulping… and remembering. My heart wants to make a list of the big lessons I’ve learned this year (and I still just might) but my brain tells me there may be bandwidth issues if I even try. I’ve learned a lifetime’s worth of painful, messy truths about myself and my life and why I work the way I work. But no one wants to hear that. Besides, while personal growth sounds all nice and everything, my final takeaway from 2016 is much more simple yet more profound:
I’m still here.
Still running. Still trying. Still fighting. Still loving.
I was here to see the 12 year old score his first touchdown. I was here to see the 8 year old play Alice in Alice in Wonderland. I was here to see the 16 year old sing his first solo song on stage. I was here. And more than that, I am glad I was here.
I’m glad I’m here… right here, right now. (And if you are reading this, wherever and whoever you are, I’m glad you’re here too.)
2016 didn’t take us down. We’re still here. And given the alternative, that’s a whole hell of a lot to be thankful for as we round out the year.