Dedicated to my late brother.
I woke up feeling unusually contemplative this morning. There was a slight chill in the air. The soft sounds of my cats’ snoring resonated around me while I lay in bed, staring at the glowing silhouettes of the twinkle lights upon my ceiling. The faint scent of smoke and ash lingered in the space around us. And in the midst of all this, the past year swam circles through my mind.
There has been such immense tragedy and turmoil within the confines known as 2020. When the year began, so many of us were looking forward to a brand-new decade; a fresh start and a clean slate from the previous decades’ despair and disappointments. Yet, little did we understand that within a mere few months, the world would become dark and filled to the brim with such incertitude. What was to be a new chapter of hope and inspiration quickly turned into a devastatingly brutal breadth of ugliness.
A pandemic swept the world, drastically altering our realities on how stable and prepared we all thought we were for such an intense event. Innocent people were lynched in the streets and in their beds by the very individuals sworn to protect us, creating a vehement uprising for contemporary civil rights. Many people still don’t understand the dire stakes of the movement and why it shouldn’t be snuffed out as nothing more than a passing social media phase, and how that has inadvertently led to and continues to feed into the grotesque political climate that plagues the United States. Well, it’s one of its sources of sustenance at the very least. The world has also lost so many incredible individuals. Individuals who had so much more left to give to the world; more inspiration, more hope, more representation of the discriminated and the demeaned, more life.
When does it all end? Will it end? And if so, how much more of our soul and our conviction shall it take with it before it finally does?
The more I pondered on what has come to pass thus far in 2020, the more I felt like folding myself into an insignificant little ball and disappearing. The urge to step away from this reality, from this harsh present times, and even from the instability of whatever is to arise next is indescribably overwhelming. My tears from the fear of the future burn as they roll down my cheeks. My lungs ache with screams that are silenced by the arrival of the next tragedy. My mind is black with the burden of everything we’ve lost.
Then I thought of my brother.
“This is not the end of your story. If stories ended whenever the world was blanketed by catastrophe, there would be no hope for the people. There would be no magic in the air for us to continually reach out for. An ending brings about the tides of finality from which there is no return. No matter how fucked-up it all is, the story goes on. Life goes on.”
His voice resonated in the centre of everything like a beacon in a treacherous storm of debilitating despair. Logically I understand their meaning, but inwardly on an emotional and mental level, sometimes I want to laugh. My brother was an avid reader of Shakespeare and Poe, which if you ever sought him out for advice, became quite apparent in the way he’d speak to you. So, when I think about these words and the plethora of situations where he had to repeat them to me, I can’t help but feel that they are just as fantastical or fictional as the books I’m obsessed with. Even so, at the end of the day, no matter how miserable or discouraging or even unbelievable, he’s right.
The story goes on.
Yes, 2020 has been fraught with harrowing occurrences and Boss Man only knows what’s left to come. I don’t ever want to forget what has happened here. I don’t ever want to remember it as nothing more than a swirling leaf in my existence. Because it is very much a tide of finality in many ways. But I also don’t want this to be how I associate my clean slate, my fresh beginning, the dawn of a new chapter that comes with a pristine decade. This can’t be all that we write in the pages of the tale of 2020. As easy as it is to focus on those egregious travesties, it is not the way to truly move forward, even in the midst of uncertainty.
Each story, no matter how melancholy and calamitous, has its silver linings. There are moments that come together to form a mosaic of hope and inspiration; to craft a landscape of encouragement. Rather than ruminate hungrily upon the darkness, it’s important to concentrate on the joys that were overshadowed by it, no matter how tiny or irrelevant they may seem. Here’s a list of some of mine:
- I submitted a short story for a writing contest for the first time and placed in the top 10%.
- I wrote my very first author bio.
- I established The Djinn Reader, which is a blog for #OwnVoices literature only, something I’ve been contemplating for the better part of a year.
- I told my favourite author what her books meant for me on a deeply intimate level and it helped her in ways I never expected.
- I started school, quit school, and then finally found my passion outside of writing, and started school again to pursue it, this time without worrying about “being too old” for my field of study. (You’re never too old to live, never ever.)
- I discovered a new favourite fantasy book series, so much so that there’s a pleasant ache in my chest when I think about the very first-time I read it. The joy and the wide-eyed excitement are moments I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
- I chose a new name that better represents my Nonbinary identity (reveal to come soon).
- I found a new friend via blogging whom I cherish wholeheartedly. She’s such a breath of fresh air and her kindness makes me want to be a better person.
- I began reviewing video games. They’re not popular posts, but they bring me a great sense of happiness and helped me to reconnect with one of my favourite passions.
- I learned that my heart condition is treatable, and it shall allow me to live a long, healthy, and normal life; that I won’t die before I’m 35, like I initially believed.
When I put these pieces together, it creates a picture of determination and courage. This is the year where I finally learned to embrace opportunities instead of sitting in my bedroom too afraid to take a chance at life. It may not seem like a lot, but when the world is completely falling apart around you, consumed in the flames of anguish and ambivalence, standing up and taking that one small step can make all the difference.
So, yes, I lay here in bed contemplating about the tragedy and turmoil that has shaped the year of 2020. Yet, I also see the seedlings of promise that lay in the wake of these hardships and wreckage. The silver lining that shall bring about the tides of tomorrow. The story going on, one word, one line, one page at a time.
Where shall your story take you?