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In Gratitude for Simplicity

As I write this, it’s late in the afternoon on the last day of this year we have all slogged through with fear, anger, disappointment, sadness, and an enormous amount of flexibility and resilience. By the time it’s being read, we are several days into a new year. In our best versions of magical thinking, we all see 2021 as the beginning of something better. And of course, thanks to the development of a vaccine, it surely will be an improved year, although there are countless hurdles still ahead. But simply bringing 2020 to an end is a relief. We’re all eager for a change.

But I'm not approaching this new year with a long list of resolutions. I can’t imagine spending any more time thinking, planning, and strategizing to somehow improve my life. What I want more than anything in this next year is to spend much less time in my head and much more time embracing my actual life. I haven’t done this very much in my long time on earth. I grew up with the notion that the best life was something outside of me and that, if I worked really hard at achieving my goals and being a good citizen, a good life would follow. I’m sure it was partly the era I grew up in—as well as having a mother who believed vehemently in that greener grass on the other side of the fence. Whatever it was, I was a faithful resolution-maker for decades, always greeting the reality of the second week in January with disappointment in myself and the world around me.

I want to feel grounded, and open, and grateful and happy to be here at this moment.

Happily, I’m older and wiser now—and I’ve actually enjoyed the simplicity of my life enough during the last 10 months to appreciate it just as it is. I certainly still want to be able to travel and try new things and spend time with my friends after the pandemic. But, I also want to just meet whatever comes, as it comes. I’ve exhausted myself over the years with to-do lists and endless goals and trying to be as good as I can possibly be. A huge part of me just wants to be—to see what it feels like to be on the ground and not so much in my head. In a way that I never imagined back in March, this last year kind of prepared me for a simpler existence. It also gave me a totally different way to view my life. I saw my days without any of the fancy lenses that come with social interactions, big accomplishments, and the freedom to do whatever we want to, whether we do it or not. I learned to meditate, to sit with my own busy brain, and to bring it back to just appreciating the Japanese maple tree in my backyard.

I’ve also learned (at least I learn it a few times every day) that this is enough—that I am enough. That may not sound like a huge revelation, but when I think about the young me—a very shy lesbian girl who didn’t look like my blonde, svelte friends—to feel that I’m enough is like winning the lottery. And that’s how I’d like to feel as much as I can in 2021. I’d like to really be in my life this year—fully immersed in everything, from the taste of coffee in the morning, to the feel of the cool wood on my desk, to the sight of the dogs playing in the yard. This is my life. I am grateful and happy, and I don’t want to end that sentence with “but.”

I’m seeing this new year as I chance to just step forward into whatever is there, as often as I can remember to. I want to feel grounded, and open, and grateful, and happy to be here at this moment. I’ve approached many new years with the opposite view, that everything would be good if only I were better in some way. It feels like an enormous relief to be through with 2020, but also to have discovered this simple place of comfort in myself.


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