There is a surprise in coming to the end of this long, strange year. I remember in those early months when the world began to shut down due to Covid-19: it felt as though the year might last forever, that it would be a very long time before we came to the end of it. And yet here we are at the end of November, about to ease into 2020’s final month, and the holidays kicking off in a strange, locked down frenzy; I hardly saw it coming.
However, I’m happy to be here. Not just for the usual reasons, in that I enjoy existence on this planet and am always curious to see what comes next despite my better judgment. No, I’m happy to be out the other end of some of this year’s stresses and now facing a winter that I desire more than expected.
I thought at first that it would not hold the normal appeal as in years past. This year, in some ways, has been a quiet one for me, with more time hunkered down inside my home than is typical, for the obvious reasons. I have made decent use of it, focusing on my writing, reading a great many books, and engaging in my daily practices of ritual, meditation, and divination. It has not been without its failures and derailments, as is so often the case, but in looking back on the sum of my efforts, I’m pleased by my accomplishments.
Yet this year’s inward turn left me feeling as recently as a week ago that this winter did not hold quite the same appeal as past ones. Rather than coming off a summer of heightened activity and looking forward to the quiet bedding down of fall and winter—an increase in reading, more quiet days inside, and a focus on reflection—I am instead in many ways continuing what I’ve been doing throughout the year. I am reading plenty right now, but I have been throughout the year; I am refocusing on my writing, but wrote more this year already than any year past; I am continuing my practices, but have been doing them all year long. My plans for tomorrow and the next day and the day thereafter are not so different than they have been many days throughout this year.
And yet a change is in the air. This has been a challenging year for me, for a variety of reasons. Some of those have been shared by all; others very personal. The stress of a pandemic and the fulminations of this year’s elections have proven hard for me, and at times distracting. Death came into my life early this year. My day job has been stressful and chaotic much the year. I have occasionally lost track of my practices, missing days and feeling divorced from their deeper meaning. Bad habits have come and gone, and if there is one thing I have learned this year it’s that I still have so far to go. I have always known that but sometimes I forget.
The past week or two, though, the world has started to open back up for me. The passing of the election has helped with that, though it still feels as though the world around me cannot quite settle. (I thought people around me might be calmer afterward; so far that reality seems limited.) I suspect I can see the coming end of the pandemic, despite its current resurgence, and that brings me joy. (Honestly, I want little more than to push into a crowded bar, to not make calculations, to hug my friends.) And of late my practices have regained a power and resonance that had started to wane. It feels as though I may have pushed past an obstacle into something deeper, and in the process am discovering a pathway on to the next phase of my journey.
My writing is beginning to feel recharged, as well, and it is in part that sense that brings me back to this blog. I have meant to write more here, but since finishing “The Face of the Deep” and then wrapping up the final issue of Into the Ruins, I have retreated into myself, regrouping and fortifying myself against the nation’s agitations throughout the fall election season and working to clear inner space and regain a certain sanity. Emerging now into the winter season, it feels as though I may have more to say; it feels as though I should come back to the world, and to myself, and reengage.
I am not yet sure what all I am opening up into. It’s a strange feeling; I expect much more tumult to come, and I admit I am not very optimistic about my nation’s future at the moment. But for now it’s all just a feeling, a flurry of inputs and musings I have not yet put into coherent form. Right now I feel as though I am standing at a precipice, and I am worried as to what’s to come, but am also excited for some next phase I can’t yet grasp or understand.
It feels good. All of it feels good. And much as this year’s coming end has taken me by surprise—I though it might never come, and yet here it is—so too has this strange feeling of optimism and emergence. Only weeks ago I was in a bleak place; only days ago mired in stress and frustration. And it may yet come again, perhaps in a very short time. Yet at the moment I look forward to the coming days and weeks, to the nestling in of winter and the inward turn of my mind, and I wonder at what I might come to think and realize and write, what I might create to put out into the world, and what I might find in my inner journeying. Perhaps none of it will come out quite as I hope or aspire, but the path before me looks bright.
I expect there are parts of it I’ll be able to share with you here, and I hope you’ll come join me when there are. Expect to hear more from me soon—and in the meantime, I wish you happy holidays, whichever of them you celebrate, and a lovely coming winter full of all the great joys the season offers.