Whistling Past The Graveyard
I begin this blog at the close of 2020, a year that a lot of us will be more than happy to leave behind. If you're reading this, you're already well aware of why so many found the past year so difficult. This post is not designed to downplay or trivialize the losses borne by so many in America and around the world in the months just past. Nor is it offered as some sort of pie-in-the-sky pep talk to con you into thinking that 2021 is going to be a whole lot better; we can't know.
To "whistle past the graveyard"--according to Merriam-Webster--means to talk or act as if one is relaxed or unafraid when one is actually afraid or nervous. That's where I find myself at the close of 2020. I would like to say I am unafraid, but that would be a lie; I would like to say I'm pretty relaxed about the future, but I'm plenty nervous. The thing is, though: I'm tired of living like that.
Of all the issues that came out of 2020, one of the largest for me personally--and maybe for you, too--was the issue of Psychic Weight. It just feels like every one of us has been carrying a LOT. Even though I am well aware my burdens have been lighter than many, I worry that a lot of areas in my life simply require more care than I am capable of giving them right now, and maybe you feel that way, too.
So I'm starting a blog, even though I have no idea what it will be, except that it will be my attempt to get out from under that psychic weight, and to move forward with a firmer resolve to seek the positive, even in trying times. I'm starting it now because whether one measures from the Solstice or from the New Year, the last days of December always feel like a turning point, a time when hope returns to our lives at the same time that sunlight returns to our days. (With apologies to those who live on the other side of the globe; as a resident of the Northern Hemisphere, that's how it works up here.) And I'm sharing these thoughts online just in case something I'm feeling is something you're feeling, too; I don't know if anything I say here will help, but if it helps one person--even just a little--that's good enough for me.
The thing is, as naïve as it sounds, hope just feels better than where I've been spending the past months. Sure, we can't know if 2021 will be an improvement, but we can't know it won't be, either, and the arrival of a Solstice and a New Year seems like the perfect time to pretend it just might. Maybe this is the year I'll lose those last 10 pounds, whether they be psychic or actual weight. Maybe this year I'll learn to speak Spanish beyond just the swear words. Maybe I'll write something of value. Maybe I'll get together with large groups of my friends and family and hug every last one of them. Twice.
And as long as I'm dreaming, maybe this is the year the people who decide what to do with public education will actually listen to the people who teach it. Maybe politicians will care more about the people who helped elect them than they do about getting re-elected. Maybe this divided nation will find a way to heal. Maybe all of the various huddled masses will indeed breathe free.
I know, I said this was not designed to a pie-in-the-sky pep talk, and it isn't. I'm still nervous, and I'm still fearful. But I'm going to see what life is like while whistling past the graveyard, and if you feel like you'd like to whistle with me, your company would be most welcome.
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E. M. Brehm