It’s the first day of 2022.
I think I’ve said “Happy new year” five times over the past few days. Six max. I haven’t wished a happy new year to anyone. Saying and wishing are two different things, after all. One can say something without meaning it, but to wish it, well, that takes a degree of belief in the words leaving your mouth.
And I’ve had a hell of a time buying into the idea of a happy new year up to now.
It’s hardly a hot take to say that the year we just burned through was exceptionally difficult, and I won’t waste anyone’s time by sifting through the remnants of why that is. Heading into the big holiday break, I was looking for a big win to head off the depression and anxiety I felt building within me. That win didn’t materialize, and Christmas was less than merry. The depression and anxiety deepened, working in alternating shifts. Last week I even hid my birthdate on Facebook because I didn’t feel like I deserved birthday greetings this time around.
Today I got blood test results for an upcoming physical, and they told me what I already knew. That depression and anxiety I was trying to stymie had settled in early in 2021 and were living rent free in my head, as the kids say. The stress eating and lack of motivation to exercise have led to high cholesterol. I’ve put on a fair amount of weight. And physical well-being aside, I haven’t tended to my mindfulness practices like I should. Also, my writing life has fallen apart.
Of course, it’s all tied together, and I understand intellectually that just doing a little bit of one or all these things leads to doing more of them. Getting over that emotional hump, though, that’s the tricky part. And it’s all down to me. No one is getting me through this except the guy I’m utterly dissatisfied with every time I look in the mirror lately.
A few minutes ago, I saw something a friend of mine shared on social media. It’s a new poem by the incredible Amanda Gorman, dedicated to our collective struggles over the past year, the tattered state we’re in as a new year begins, and the hope that exists even during the times we cannot even fathom it. Gorman debuted the poem on Dec. 30. My birthday, ironically enough.
I’d love to say that I read this poem, entitled New Day’s Lyric, and felt such deep inspiration that I turned a new leaf, charged ahead, and didn’t look back. But that only happens in bad books and their even worse movie adaptations.
Here’s what I can say. I’ve read the poem a few times now, and I feel a little bit better. I don’t feel alone. I’m able to accept my responsibility for my own well-being, rather than blaming it all on the pandemic, lousy weather, bad timing, and so many other scape goats. And I wrote this. That’s not nothing.
And at the start of a new year, after feeling so low for so long, not nothing sounds pretty good to me.
New Day’s Lyric
by Amanda Gorman
May this be the day
We come together.
Mourning, we come to mend,
Withered, we come to weather,
Torn, we come to tend,
Battered, we come to better.
Tethered by this year of yearning,
We are learning
That though we weren’t ready for this,
We have been readied by it.
Steadily we vow that no matter
How we are weighed down,
We must always pave a way forward.
This hope is our door, our portal.
Even if we never get back to normal,
Someday we can venture beyond it,
To leave the known and take the first steps.
So let us not return to what was normal,
But reach toward what is next.
What was cursed, we will cure.
What was plagued, we will prove pure.
Where we tend to argue, we will try to agree,
Those fortunes we forswore, now the future we foresee,
Where we weren’t aware, we’re now awake;
Those moments we missed
Are now these moments we make,
The moments we meet,
And our hearts, once all together beaten,
Now all together beat.
Come, look up with kindness yet,
For even solace can be sourced from sorrow.
We remember, not just for the sake of yesterday,
But to take on tomorrow.
We heed this old spirit,
In a new day’s lyric,
In our hearts, we hear it:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
Be bold, sang Time this year,
Be bold, sang Time,
For when you honor yesterday,
Tomorrow ye will find.
Know what we’ve fought
Need not be forgot nor for none.
It defines us, binds us as one,
Come over, join this day just begun.
For wherever we come together,
We will forever overcome.