2018 draws to a close and surrounds me in a way that feels like a wool blanket – warm and protective and itchy and oppressive all at once. The enormity of this year is still hard for me to fully understand. It leaves me inarguably changed. I feel it, but not. I am the same, but not.
2018 was a reckoning.
It was waking up in the morning to a cold face of water or laying down in a bed full of gravel. It was a lullaby and a chainsaw. It was the endless drip of a leaky kitchen sink, and the glorious smell of lilac in the air. It was puppies playing and blues music and a diamond-hard mountain lake in the winter and the sound of the wind in tree leaves and that time you stub your toe on the corner of your bed frame.
It was life in every raw, full-bodied way that life can be life.
And 2018 taught me some things about myself I would have rather not learned, but probably needed to know. 2018 was blunt and brutal honesty, again and again.
And the highs were so high.
I hiked 100 miles through the Canadian wilderness. At work, I built my team of one into a team of five. I explored the American West with my mother; a trip I will cherish in my heart forever. I woke up at dawn to watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, and that very same day I watched it set over Horseshoe Bend. I didn’t just finish the first year of my MBA – I slayed it. I joyfully watched four of my best friends get married. I followed in the footsteps of my father, purchased an impact drill, and learned to build things myself. I stood on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean at Canaveral National Seashore in a thunderstorm, and let the sound of the waves crash over me as I wriggled my toes in the cold, wet sand. I built a consulting business. I danced in the rain.
I just plain danced.
And I laughed more than I maybe ever have before, with friends old and new. Friends who are scattered all over the world; a spiderweb of love and support and belly-laughter.
I also cried more than I ever have before. Good god, the lows.
2018 swept in hard and fast, a cold lance driven brutally straight through the heart. And for a moment, I crumbled in a way I never had before. And for the first time, instead of rising defiantly with fire in my eyes, I wallowed there, transparent and wraith-like. I was lost. I was broken.
And when I finally picked myself up from the ground, I tortured myself with questions – is this really…it? Is this still the right path? Is it all worth it? What’s the fucking point of all of this?
And mostly just…
[ [ [ why? ] ] ]
Why? Why the long hours and the schedule that is so full all the time? The dark circles under my eyes. The days where I drink so much coffee in order to survive that I lay awake at night until the wee hours begging my brain to shut off.
The moments when I sit, surrounded on all sides by people I love and who love me, and yet still feel so fucking alone.
Out of dire necessity, I themed 2018 the year of “rising”. And out of necessity, I did, again and again. It wasn’t fun; and yet, it was the most fun I’ve ever had. The saddest; and yet, the happiest I’ve ever been. The loneliest; and yet, the least lonely I’ve ever been.
My mentor told me recently that if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing. As 2018 comes to a close I say good fucking riddance; I’m ready to stop growing for a while. This year has been too much, and not enough at the same time.
And more than likely, 2019 will be more of the same glorious roller coaster. And in keeping with 2018, the thought of that fills me with opposites; wide-eyed excitement, and cold, quiet dread.
So as this year comes to a close, I take a breath. I pause for a moment in the calm. And then…