I usually like not to look back. But It’s hard to envision 2021 without at least a glance in the rearview mirror, although I think that there is a reason that these are so small on our cars. Maybe we are meant to keep the little mirror’s perspective in context, seeing what is ahead instead of weighing too much on the past. Better is the excellent big windshield in front of us, shouting that we should focus more on the wide-open spaces in front — the driving-at-dawn-in-Wyoming view that is all the possibilities ahead.
Still. 2020 could kick Superman’s ass, I bet.
The year was one like no one expected or could have predicted. Me? I had such plans… Ha! Even as I write those words, the ridiculousness smacks me right on the side of the head and says, “Really, man?” Isn’t there some joke about if you want to see God (or insert your Higher Power nomenclature here) have a good laugh, just tell him/her/them your plans?
Yeah. I had plans, all right, and they were going to be grand.
When the pandemic’s destructive bandwidth finally sank in for me, it was apparent that I had to get busy, plant new fields, do something! I had more than 100 gigs that were going to replace the job that I had just left at EarthQuaker Devices. By spring, they were gone, and I had to go deep and develop something of a plan.
With a glance over my shoulder, I can see that this was a year of deepening my well-being and health. It cost absolutely nothing, which was precisely what I could afford on my new emergency budget plan. Diet, exercise, and more focus on my spiritual practices knocked on my door in my simple home in Cuyahoga Falls, and I let them in. Martin the Dog and I spent the spring, summer, and fall working on ourselves. I feel quite right about that now. I feel better emotionally and spiritually, and that takes some of the heat off the financial jabs that 2020 aimed at me in my first full year as a real-deal “working artist.” I survived by the barest of means and am still here. 2020, I offer you my middle finger raised and lips pursed defiantly.
I’m still standing in part because of the tender mercies that were shown to me. There were human-angels that pushed me out of that dark room with a spiritual tap on the shoulder. Their soul-saving reminders that I should not sit alone with my self-obsessions, that I should remember to shower and change my jeans, shave, wash my face and tell the guy in the mirror today will be fine. Just hang on.
I am thankful for so much; I am grateful to so many. I must try to mention a few:
My friends who called out to me. I am not the first to pick up the phone and never have been. I am working on this. Your text messages, emails, or other shouts kept me going on those days when I didn’t have it independently. I will do better this year at being the one that pays this back and forward. Promise made.
The unexpected kindness of friends and strangers. For the friends that helped me with a deal on my tires, for the referrals for my private music lessons, for the walking companions and conversations that aired my anxiety out on the streets of my neighborhood, for the messages when Martin the Dog had surgery and my heart was body-slammed to the pavement, for the patrons and the tosses of $5 in my jar at rare gigs, for the support of my live streams that kept me solvent in late spring when the work went poof, on and on and on. You just have no idea. No idea what this all meant to me. Thank you. Tears in my eyes while typing this.
My family, who I have become more connected with. This one is the most personal, but maybe the most meaningful. I have surrendered to the fact that as long as they are walking this Earth, I will rejoice in these complicated relationships bound by DNA. They are not a Disney production and never will be. Instead, they’re part of the mystery that is my heritage, the cloth from which I am cut. They are the best, though maybe sometimes the least welcome, of my teachers. I will see that better in the future. I will!
And kids, call your parents. Please. We love you and need to know you are OK.
What will the new year bring? Well, after Sober Guy v. 2020, I am hesitant to say anything or make any predictions. Nope, no big thoughts or wise words from this guy. No magic tricks are expected.
The one thing I want to give more of and see more of, is kindness — the one thing that we can all give to each other that won’t cost a damn dime and won’t hurt in any way.
2021 will be the year of totally unrestrained kindness over here in the Shannon house. Come on over and help me discover some new ways to push this out there in practice. I’ll make the tacos.
Bring a treat for my best damn friend, Martin the Dog. Bring a hug for me. Bring a sigh of relief for yourself as we all share the one thing that is the excellent solvent for all the sticky, stuck-on leftover stains from 2020: