It's my last morning in Indiana and the second to last day of 2016. I woke up to snow on the ground and the bright, orange sun rising above a row of houses. It breaks through the blue grey clouds and warms my room, its golden arms reaching out to me beneath my comforter. Christmas is over and now we're in that phase where my heart begins to yearn for spring long before it's acceptable. Warm me, sun. Warm me, I smile through the window.
What will I say about 2016?, I wonder as I lie there, reflecting on the year. Personally, it was a year of great joy. I got married. I left my job to pursue The Letter Project. I went to Greece and moved in with a boy for the first time. I got to watch my baby brother get married. I learned new rhythms for what my relationships look like after marriage and what my days look like after Corporate America. The year was full of new beginnings and routines. It was amazing.
But, beyond me, 2016 brought a lot of pain. One of my best friends lost her dad suddenly and we all felt that loss in our hearts and souls. I ached for her in a way I didn't know you could ache for a friend. He was a good, kind man and his quick departure left a cavern, a hole he once filled with constant laughter and love.
Outside of us, there was also a lot of tragedy across America and on a global scale. There was loss and pain for people all around the world. And, of course, there was a shocking presidential election.
Am I still allowed to say 2016 was great? I wonder as I watch the sun burn through the clouds, the grey dissipating and a bright, blue sky pressing through.
I am a dichotomous person. I do not operate well in the in between. It's either this or that. It's good or bad. It's happy or sad. It's a success or a failure. This or that gives me the feeling of control. It allows me to believe I understand what the year meant, have put it in a box and tied it with a bow. It was a happy year!
But, what 2016 taught me is that sometimes, we have to operate in the in between. Sometimes we have to stand within the schism, stretching our arms to both sides, touching the good and the bad simultaneously. We have to feel every bit of it wash over our bodies, understanding that we must be the bridge between the two.
We have to replace the or with an and because and is a bridge. It's happy and it's sad. 2016 was beautiful and it was hard. It was alarmingly bitter and incredibly sweet. Sometimes moments of great joy run parallel with moments of great pain and it is our job not to understand them, but to feel them.
2016 was a year of great joy and pain. It was the year of and. And that is very much OK.
Here's to you, 2016, in all your beauty and pain, fullness and emptiness. Here's to honesty, love, beginnings and endings. Here's to bravery. Here's to big, bold and.