2021 in review, life in review
Here we are in the final week of the final month of 2021. It's time to look back at my year and reflect on what I experienced and how it has shaped me. I also like to envision what I hope to accomplish in the coming year and set some goals to achieve those intentions. A couple years ago I started closing my office for the last two weeks of the year, partly for this very exercise. Also partly so I can take time off for the holidays and get some stuff done around the house.
One of the things I was getting done around the house this week was crafting. I cut, I sewed, I colored. I glued things to other things. I made gifts, I made decorations, and I made a giant mess. Then I cleaned it up. It was marvelously fun and nicely restorative. It was also poignant. Creating a cohesive piece of art from parts and pieces of many other images feels a whole lot like piecing together meaning from the various shards of 2021.
As I reflect on this past year, I am collaging all its seemingly disjointed aspects and events into the totality of my 2021 experience. A strip of insurrection at the capitol, a swath of tax season, a slice of summer fun before Delta, a piece of the epic saga of the table I ordered in August that finally arrived in November. A lot happened this year, and not much of it felt related to any other occurrence. Consequently, this year feels simultaneously like it flew by and as if it has lasted forever.
As part of my annual reflection, I am also reviewing what worked and what didn't. What served me well and what detracted from the outcomes I intended. I found myself performing essentially the same process as I looked through my box of collage scraps. There were nature scenes, images of food, and miscellaneous objects I kept for future bouts of creativity. There was also an assortment of comics I no longer found funny because they were really just people being mean to other people. And there was a label from a bottle of madeira that I thought contained a cleaver poem about the port-like spirit, but I realized (upon re-reading it) is actually a terrible tale of date rape.
I originally kept that Madeira label because I thought it was funny. And so did my parents. We laughed about it together when I was a teenager. Twenty years ago not one of us questioned the inevitability of a lecherous old man using his wealth to take advantage of a young woman. Today I recognize it cleanly as one of the many deplorable examples of social conditioning we're all exposed to that perpetuates rape culture. So I tossed it immediately and unceremoniously into the recycling bin, along with all the mean-spirited comics, and took a walk to shake off my disgust.
I'm grateful that present me can see those toxic things for what they are, although I'm not a fan of how ubiquitous it is. As I become more aware of what we are actually practicing through our ordinary actions and inactions, it feels harder and harder to want to participate in many parts of regular society. I even sang different lyrics to some of my favorite karaoke songs recently to correct for the sexism and misogyny. I guess I'll call it progress.
Standing at the close of one year comprised entirely of uncertainty looking toward the opening of another year shaping itself murkily out of near-total uncertainty is a strange place to be. Yet here we are. It's hard to make plans, but impossible to live my life without planning anything at all. It's been a strange year. It's a strange time. And I'm sure it's only going to get stranger. I guess I'm lucky to be a strange person. Maybe I'll fit right in to the future (assuming there is one).
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.