I have found myself fumbling with the words to say.
Writing and re-writing. Scribbling out words, crumpling paper, editing my thoughts, filtering my feelings.
And if you could see my living room right now, you’d wonder if I even had a coffee table, or if it had always just been a heaping mound of trash.
Then, I glance out my picture window where the mid-winter sun reflects off the snow-covered ground and shines in brightly. A person walks by, all alone. I used to look out my window and see children playing together and adults walking, joined in conversation. I used to see smiles and hear laughter.
But the world has changed. Many of us find ourselves alone, at home, gazing at the quiet world outside our windows. Fumbling our thoughts, sifting through our feelings.
I just picked up my laptop and decided that I’m not going to write out and then edit my thoughts. There will be no red pen scribbles, no re-phrasing, no changing what I have to say. I’m just going to type them and put them out into the world wide web. Because right now, in this moment, the world feels heavy for so many people.
Yeah, you. The person sitting on the other side of this screen.
You might be on a smartphone, or on a laptop. You might be on a tablet, you might be staring at a computer screen. You might, like me, be sitting in your living room, or you might be at your desk, or you might even still be in bed. You might be at work in an office or sitting in a dimly lit break room next to someone else’s used coffee mug, scrolling aimlessly through social media. Whatever nook of the world you are tucked into right now, I encourage you to put your hand over your heart, and pause.
Do you feel that?
Your heart is beating.
And with every beat of your heart, feel your purpose, your place in this hurting world. No matter your race, your age, your gender, no matter if you are richer or poorer, this past year has changed you in some way. We all need to acknowledge that. At the end of the day, when you take off your mask, who are you and what do you stand for? What can you give to this world and how can you make it a better place?
None of us are making it out of this all unscathed. We will not emerge from the ashes the same person that we were before this fire started. And in a world that has been told to become distant, I think that we need not forget how important it is to come together. No, not everyone will have the same political views as you; we might not all think the same or feel the same way. And that’s the beauty of this world. We are all different. But our differences don’t need to be what divides us.
I sat on a park bench with a child I once knew—she wasn’t more than eight years old—and she was reflecting on how she had become friends with someone despite not getting along with them in weeks past. She exclaimed, “We might not always get along or like the same things, but we can still be friends and have fun.” I hope that she holds onto those words for the rest of her life. Because that is exactly what the world needs.
The world doesn’t need more riots or protests, it doesn’t need more anger, judgement, or more hate. We can’t control everything that happens all around us, but what a world it would be if we focused on what we can control, what we can do to make each and every day spent living on this earth count.
So when you step across that threshold to go outside, when you get off work and are running errands, when you’re at the grocery store, the bank, or wherever you may find yourself—remember: you might be wearing a mask, but you can still show the world who you want to be; you can still give this world what it needs. A friendly hello, a thoughtful gesture, a little more kindness, and a lot more love.
As we step forward into a new year, and hopefully take steps toward a new sense of normal, it is my hope that we all live with more joy, relish in each moment, set our differences aside, and care for each other.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller
It is not our differences that segregate us, that divide us from one another. It is our lack of effort to respect those differences, and our failure to give others the kindness and respect that they deserve.
2020 was a year of awakening for all of us—it backed us all into a corner and locked us in isolation. This past year has been hard, but it has also been important. Will we remember the hardships, the loss, the pain, and the struggles that people have endured? Will we remember the light that shone on global issues of structural, systemic, or social racism? Will we remember the steps made toward social justice? Will we remember the good things: like human resiliency, generosity, or how we all came together in a time of need?
Whatever it is that you carry forward, I hope that you learn from it and grow through it. Use it to manifest change, to spread kindness, and to make this world a better place.
May you be well and may we all love one another.