“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”
On paper, it may look like 2019 was my worst year ever:
My Pop was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and passed away within 4 months.
My mom moved three states away.
Gus, the sweetest cat ever, died.
I wrecked my car.
My investment portfolio tanked.
My top choice for POTUS decided not to run.
Brad broke his foot, twice, and was out of work for months.
My income declined.
But it wasn’t. Each of these things gives me reason to be thankful: joyful. There is more than just a silver lining to each of these, these are all blessings in and unto themselves.
This year, I was able to spend more time with my father in those four months than I have in four years. I was reminded of how special he was and I was able to witness his grace, his bravery, his expressions of true love, and his amazing faith in a way that never made sense before. Nearly as important, he reminded me that anger is a waste of energy: that grudges are stupid. Although I know it would have been even better if we would have “got it” before, I was reunited with my sisters and brother with whom I’ve had a strained relationship since high school. I am so lucky to have them back in my life and I know that it makes my dad happy as he looks down on us. I miss him a lot and I think about him every day, especially this time of year, but I will not waste another day that can be spent loving more people more. In family, there is joy.
This year will be the first Christmas season that I will not see my mom or my dad. I am excited for my mom and my stepdad, Bob, that they have this great new opportunity to live in a beautiful new place. They are already making a home in South Carolina. I know how much my mother loves seasons and the mountains and Bob. In their new home, she has all of these. I am eager to have a new place to visit. In the last few months before mom moved, I was able to spend more quality time with her—really soaking up all the love she has in her heart—and I’m thankful for that. She is the sweetest, most loving person I know and I’m so proud to be her son. In movement, there is joy.
This year, just days before dad died, our sweet fat cat, Gus died. Gus had been Brad’s companion for the better part of two decades. He was a sweet boy and it broke my heart to see Brad hurt so much with the loss. We shared the loss together and it brought me and Brad even closer together. I wish that Gus were still here, but at the same time, he continues to be a link that Pally and I share. In grief and in condolence, there is commiseration. In memory, there is joy.
This year, I remember, cars are stupid. We have insurance. I have an excuse to get a new car. This is such a non-event. In having perspective, there is joy.
This year, in January, the stock market was tanking. Macroeconomic forces beyond my control, like the government shutdown and the trade war, were wreaking havoc on my future retirement. I watched my investment portfolio drop by thirty percent. All of my training said to hold and look for the brighter days. I know that America always gets better. This time this year, there’s been a 60 percent swing. I’m up thirty percent. The aging middle-ager in me kept telling me to sell Sell SELL to cut my losses. Instead, I listened to my rational-optimist side; I leaned in and bought. America can’t lose. In optimism, there is joy.
This year, earlier, Mike Bloomberg released a campaign video then decided not to run for president. He has since decided to run. He is the perfect #RadicalCentrist—the successful businessman, philanthropist, and proven leader I’ve wanted for a decade—and I couldn’t be happier that he has staked a claim on the otherwise unsavory (excluding Buttigieg and Klobuchar) Democrat primary. He is the best hope to lead us into the next decade. He may not even win the primary and he may not even beat Trump if he does win the primary, but he is absolutely an important voice in the discourse and will surely have an impact on the shape of the election and the future of America. I’m excited to be part of his campaign. In #RadicalCentrism, there is joy.
This year, for weeks in the spring, Pally limped around in excruciating pain. We thought it was just another gout flare-up. When he couldn’t stand the pain anymore, he went to a doctor who saw nothing wrong. After a few weeks, he went to a specialist who said he had a break in his foot that he’d been working and walking on for weeks. What had been a missed hairline fracture by the first doctor had grown into a horrible break by the time we got to the second doctor. Pally couldn’t work for a couple months. It was during these months that both Gus and Dad died. It was during these months that we were both afforded more time to spend with them and to love each other through our sadness and grief. Now that it’s healed, I see that that broken foot was the conduit to helping us help each other through our broken heartedness. In companionship, there is joy.
This year, through all of this, I took a new career position that meant a short-term pay reduction and a draw-down of capital reserves. It also meant that for the exact period of time between my Pop’s diagnosis and his funeral, I did not have to travel. During this most trying period, the career opportunity afforded me time to spend with my father, to spend time with my mother, to spend time with my Pally, to re-kindle my relationship with my siblings, to grieve with all of them, and to appreciate all of them more. Far from poverty, but belt-tightened nonetheless, we ate out less, we cooked together more, we came to appreciate what we had instead of wanting what we didn’t have. In hunger, there is joy.
This year, I was able to reflect more on the amazing opportunities that come with being an American.
This year, I was reminded that love and optimism are more than fleeting emotions, that they are ideologies: a way of living. In trials, there are countless opportunities for joy.
In optimism, there is joy.
In love, there is joy.
In 2020, as in 2019, there will be joy.
In everything, my brothers and sisters, I will find joy.
Read more of my poetry, essays, and short stories at Momentitiousness.com