As I sit here reflecting on 2021, with news alerts about Omicron pinging on my phone and experts calling for a dark winter ahead, I am choosing to think about the moments in the past year that made my heart soar.
This is going to be a column about gratitude, so if you aren’t in the mood for that, stop reading.
Life has been really hard for humanity. Like, really hard. Close to home, we’ve said goodbye to long-time, beloved community members. Rains washed away our roads and our land and for some, parts of their houses. We’ve imagined an end to the pandemic only to be hit with another setback.
As with many of us, I live with depression and anxiety, and there are times when I feel so overwhelmed and angry by the world around me that it seems pointless to carry on.
But then I do.
By putting one foot in front of the other, by stepping out the door, I see the sun-dappled cedar trees on my way to work. I greet my favorite barista. I admire gingerbread houses made by tiny, creative, determined hands. I frequent island businesses, owned by community members who persevere despite the odds. I watch local teens give everything they have on the soccer field with astounding results. I cheer on performing artists, whose creativity and passion inspire me. I write with pride about neighbors who come together to repair damaged roads. I see us enduring a ferry system that is stressful and unreliable.
We help find housing for each other. We return lost wallets. We donate to organizations that keep this community running. We support our small-town newspapers (thank you, advertisers and subscribers). We wear masks and get vaccinated to keep our community safe. We lift each other up and we care for one another in a thousand different ways, every day. All those little kindnesses add up and are felt by everyone. It is my true and genuine honor to live alongside all of you.
Perspective is a choice, and while there are times when I feel sadness and rage, I choose to let appreciation lead the way. I find ways to feel grateful for my life every single day.
This solstice, as I look toward the coming light and pay my respects to the receding darkness, I feel most grateful to all of you.
Happy new year.