Obligatory New Year’s Navel Gazing

I usually try to be more uplifting with these things, but for various reasons this year I’m not really feeling it. I argued with myself about even writing this, but I feel like it’ll do me good to get it out, so here you go, even though it’s rather boring, very navel-gazy and slightly depressing.

Last year was dominated by my kidney disease. It seems this year may be too, since I’ll likely be starting a course of high-dose steroids in January. Those fuck you up–bone loss, mood disorder, significant weight gain, immunocompromise (which is the point; it’s an autoimmune disease). There’s an element of genuine risk to this treatment. I’ve come to terms with it over the last few months, but maybe there’s only so many terms you can come to with something like that, because I’m still afraid. Although I suppose I’m most afraid of the question “What next if they don’t work?”

Having a poorly-understood disease with few treatment options sucks.

Anyway, usually I love the New Year. It’s a time of reflection for me, of looking back at the past year and forward to what’s coming and taking the lessons and understanding how they fit in the greater context of my life. This year, with that looming before me, it’s kind of rough. Rough too with all the questions of what lies ahead for the world. We’re sitting in the opening stages of a revolution–not the political kind, but the kind that changes everything. The Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution. On the other side, our world will look different. Our lives will be different. We will be different. That, I suppose, is why there is so much unrest and tyranny and hate. That kind of change is frightening. A lot of people give into their fear and hatred of that change and resort to doing anything they can to stop it, and aim their resentment and anger at anyone who reminds them of it. 

But this time the change is a matter of survival. Our world must look different on the other side, or it’ll cease to be our world and, while I think humans as a species will survive, in greatly reduced numbers, it will be the kind of apocalypse that leaves little in its wake.

2020 won’t bring the end of that revolution. We’ll be living that for years to come yet. Some people despair about the outcome, but I still have real hope. I do believe we can end up somewhere good, maybe better than where we are. Though that isn’t to say I’m not afraid or grief-stricken about the difficulties, tragedies and losses that will ensue along the path of getting there.

These two things–my health and the world’s convulsions–aren’t particularly connected in any way, except in my head. As I struggle to make peace with my future, they wind together in my head in odd and often melodramatic ways. I am in no way suicidal–I very much want to live–but the thought that in the end, maybe the struggle won’t be my problem despite my own best efforts can sometimes be comforting. Other times I wonder if I’m even managing to sort them properly in my head or if my anxiety over one is feeding the other. I mean: yes, actually I don’t wonder; I know. But sometimes it can be hard to tell when and how it’s happening.

Aside from all that, I’m older. I turned 41 this year. It was weird when I turned 40 last year and it’s only getting weirder. But I do feel like, after all those years on this planet, I’m finally beginning to catch on. Probably by the time I’m 60, I’ll feel ready to start tackling life. Struggling with my health and the general state of things does teach me lessons. I stay on the lookout for them, maybe because it feels like a silver lining in all this. I’ve learned, for example, how short life really is, and internalized that yes, it really does end, and this has gotten me less afraid to go out and do things I’d always wanted to do but held back from. I’ve also, finally after my entire adult life, confronted my tendency to obsessively plan and contingency plan as a way to combat my anxiety and preserve a feeling of being in control. I’m finally learning how to live with the fact that shit simply happens sometimes. 

I am also astonished at how much I continue to change. Like…you think maybe you’ll hit 25, or 30, and at that point be fairly much the finished version of yourself? But oh no. Be prepared for massive continuing change, possibly barely even recognizing yourself when you look back and think about it.

Anyway, I would like for time to stop being such a dick and slow the fuck down a bit, but since it outranks me, I guess I am reluctantly, somewhat tiredly, okay. My goals for this year are modest: travel more, and get to a place where all this shit stops impacting my ability to write. I’ve been sitting under a cement chunk of writer’s block for months now because it’s hard to find the headspace to navigate around this.

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