December 31, 2021

NYE 21

It’s funny, looking back a year at all the sentiments from last New Year’s Eve, a recurring theme seems to be “At least this time next year, everything will be better and this pandemic will be over.” Ha ha, weren’t we all funny? Yeah, my message to the future, on NYE 2022? I hope you’re still alive and civilization hasn’t crumbled. Here’s hoping we’re not all eating bugs by then. 

2021 was a hard year, but for me, it was also one full of notable and indeed wonderful things. Let’s stick with those for the moment. Three big things will define 2021 for me. 

First and very much foremost, I married my dream girl. The one that got away turned out not to have gotten away after all. (I’m all about the long game, apparently.) I dreamed about this life and this relationship, but compared with the reality, it turns out I was dreaming small. 

Secondly, I got a job working with the kids I’ve spent the past twenty years advocating for, and I made some wonderful friends in the process. I’ve learned a lot and grown as a human being, despite my curmudgeonly disinclination to do either.

Thirdly, we got a pug. And this little monster has made us happier than we ever could have imagined. We love you, Sugarbarf. 

As the new year begins, there’s a lot to be wary of. COVID is turning up the anxiety meter once again, especially for those of us returning to school on Monday. I have some toxicity in my life that’s not easily excised or even managed. And I’m a year older, which never feels like a positive development, although I suppose it beats the alternative on most days. 

The thing about finding your happiness, especially later in life, is that it’s not actually something you find. It’s not sitting there on the sidewalk or hiding under a tree. You don’t say “Oh, look. Happiness! I’ll just pick this up and put it in my pocket!”

Happiness is something you search for, in hard-to-reach places. Happiness is a thing atop a mountain, and it’s hard work to get there. The rocks on the way up are sharp. Your hands will be bleeding by the time you reach it. 

Most of all, happiness is a thing you have to fight for, and take care of. Happiness, and above all LOVE. I know that now.

The future is full of hard work and few guarantees. But for now, sitting on the couch next to my wife (!!!!!!) and our snorting pugloaf, my beloved daughter returning to me in two weeks, and all the indescribable fountains of happiness in this life of mine, I’m going to have some optimism, cautious though it might be, that “2022” isn’t going to be “2020, too”.

I’m going to choose to believe that things are going to be alright. Maybe even extraordinary. 

Maddie the Smudge, aka Snarf Snarf Sugarbarf

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