I want to write something profound to mark the changing of the year. Something reflective, perhaps, of the year that we leave behind, or hopeful, maybe, extolling the promise of the year to come.
Honestly, I just don’t have it in me. And of all the lessons that I’ve learned this year, this, right here, is one of my favorites: It’s okay to say, “I just don’t have it in me today.” Nifty that.
But here’s what I can do. I can offer up some of the things that I have learned or relearned (or learned and then relearned and learned yet again) this year. The list is far, far from complete. But it’s what I have. And I’ve learned this year that what I have is enough.
That sometimes the very best thing — the only thing — you can say to another human being is, “I’m here.”
That no matter how hard you want to fix something or help someone, sometimes, for the sake of your own self-preservation, you have to walk away.
That self-preservation is as worthy a goal as any other.
That cancer sucks.
That watching the people you love suffer is the worst kind of hell.
That the answer is not to lower our expectations of our friends, but instead to reconsider whom we call our friends.
That I have a small number of truly extraordinary friends. And that is a blessing beyond measure.
That at the heart of everything that makes a good person good is respect.
That I am strong.
That I break.
That the greatest strength comes from letting ourselves break.
That courage does not come from strength but from faith.
That disability and identity are not mutually exclusive.
That our language is woefully inadequate to describe either of them, no less their co-existence.
That I am not Atlas.
That I don’t need to pretend to be for the sake of those who insist that I am.
That the most gets done when each of us does what we do best.
That contention sucks and harmony is wonderful, but singing Kumbaya cannot come at the cost of everything that we believe is right.
That there are always going to be people out there who think I’m full of crap.
That I can live with that.
That my work does not define me.
That living what I believe does.
That every human being has a right to be treated with dignity and respect.
That, as vexing as I may find it to be, the preceding sentence is still not obvious to many.
That the people who look like they have it all together are simply really good at looking like they have it all together.
That self-advocacy is not just for our children.
That self-righteousness is most often thinly veiled insecurity.
That those who would silence other’s voices fear examination of their own beliefs.
And that’s really sad.
That, sometimes, letting a child fail is the greatest gift a parent can give.
That even in the darkness, there’s light.
That the fundamental truth of salvation is finding and focusing on the light.
That the greatest yardstick of success is happiness.
That you can change the date on your phone in order to get 5 more lives on candy crush. Then 5 more again.
And again and again and again.
That if you don’t change it back, your phone gets confused.
That there’s always more to learn.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for stumbling along with me through 2013. It’s been a heck of a ride.
Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2014.