There have been moments in 2020 when it felt as if my bones cracked open, forcefully split down the middle so that the marrow is exposed. My capacity to “just keep going and keep the faith,” at moments, feels all together futile, whimsically hopeful, audacious and profoundly necessary.
I’ve been waking up some mornings with a sense of mourning. Moments when the sorrow becomes an albatross of burden, clutching and hanging heavy around my neck, leaving me breathless. My emotional state feels worn, as thin as cheesecloth, by a culmination of all the things. The oppressive heat, or 2020’s summer, is laced with venomous, unrelenting cold.
When I last wrote ("4 Ways To Productively Get Through Your Coronavirus Self-Quarantine, With Love"), we’d already lost so much, and now the increase of loss feels even more unbearable. We’ve lost Congressman John Lewis, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and counting. Some police are continuing to hunt Black and brown bodies for sport. Our right to vote is under daily attack. The government seems far less than stable, and unemployment rates are at an all-time high. California is yet again on fire, and hurricanes are pummeling towns with the yank and sling of a rag doll, leaving destruction in their trails.
As if all of this was not enough, we recently lost our King. Chadwick Boseman, who fought a silent and courageous battle with colon cancer, perished.
Our hearts get to the edge of healing and then they are ripped away again. Dashed open to spill the pain of 2020 all over again.
So, when I hear a person ask, “Hey, are you OK?,” I’m almost baffled by their brazenness to do so.
No, we are not OK. But in time we will be.
Call it faithfulness, noxious optimism, ignorance or whatever label you choose to apply, but I am choosing to believe that greater is coming. This doesn’t mean harder times are not ahead, but my faith tells me that my latter will be greater than my former. When looking deep enough into the midst of an engulfing sort of darkness, I see the tiniest glimmer of light right across the horizon. I’m holding onto this tightly and not allowing it to escape my gaze.
In case you’re having a difficult time finding droplets of joy, here are five things that give me hope and bring me comfort during this plague of a year. It’s a short list of things to keep you and I uplifted. Because even though we feel lost, we must try not to lose our audacity to hope for tomorrow.
1. It’s Almost Time To Vote
Voting has lost a lot of its luster since the current “holder” in the position of president has taken office. But if blood was shed for me to have the right to do so, my own people's blood, I will not allow anguish to press out the responsibility of me doing so. I heard someone say the other day, “If your vote didn’t actually matter, why are so many people attempting to keep you from doing it?” That hit different! It’s so true. If it didn’t matter, no one would try to keep you from doing so. It’s like the light inside of you. There will always be someone trying to stifle or extinguish it. Do not allow it to happen! Let your light shine daily and let your vote count this November.
If you are not registered please do so. And do so quickly! If there is a possibility of changing our government for the better, isn’t that more than enough of a reason to try?
2. Black Love Still Reigns
There is a page on Instagram called @MeAndSomebodySon_, and when I tell you I love it, I love it! There is so much melanin bombarding each photo. So much love embodied in different complexions, styles and curves heaped into every frame! I find myself double tapping and swooning at every chance I get. My friend, Nsikan, even has some of her jewelry on display (check out The Adiaha Eyo Collection for beautiful handcrafted jewelry by this Black-owned and operated small business) in one of the photos, as one of the beautiful couples beam their love across the “innanets!”
Finding love and keeping it amid a pandemic seems absolutely bananas, but recently having met a man who is absolutely kind, thoughtful, caring, generous, gentle and overall incredible, it seems fathomable. But that’s an article for another time.
3. “One And Two And Three And Four, And Get Those Sit-Ups Right”
While I will not be supporting any portion of Kanye’s run for office, nor am I interested in pulling a rapper, NBA player etc, his song was and is hilarious, and brought a lot of simple silliness to my workout playlist. The reality of what’s been referred to as the “COVID-15” weight gain is unfortunately real.
What overcomes those 15 pounds? Working out! Find something that you enjoy so its less of an “Ugh, I don’t want to” feeling and more of an “Ugh, OK fine” feeling. For me, that’s been biking. When I used to live abroad, I would bike 20 plus miles a day. On day one of this current challenge, I was almost three miles in before I had to stop. Now, I am steadily increasing by the day; soon I will be back to my normal pace. Pop in some great music and just go.
4. “In The Kitchen Wrist Twistin’“
How did I get those “COVID-15,” you ask? Sis has been cooking.
I don’t mean your run of the mill, out of the box fish sticks and chicken nuggets. (Although I’m down for the occasional processed childhood delight.) I’m talking about my own recipe for “Devin’s Drop Buttamilk Biscuits,” fried peaches, strawberry shortcakes, key lime pies, thick cut bacon and an assortment of other decadent delights.
I’ve earned every bit of this fluffiness, and I am not ashamed! But then again, there’s decadence and there’s balance. I toss in a salad every once in a while to make it real. Exploring and preparing sumptuous meals has brought me so much joy. Try something new tonight.
5. Call Them
If nothing else, we have all gotten an extension of time in our days. As someone who is now working from home and keeping even more busy from here than I was in the office, there is still additional time. There have been months and years when I didn’t pick up the phone and call folks. People I love.
Now, that I have more of an opportunity to do so, I find myself picking up the phone instead of shooting a quick text. I’ve been easing into the comfort of cushy sofa cushions and relishing the exchanges I have with old and new friends between raucous laughter and heartfelt moments. It’s really allowed me to reconnect with people I love, and I am thankful beyond measure.
I think we can all agree 2020 has been a monster we didn’t expect. And I won’t sugarcoat it by saying it hasn’t been. It has! It's been riddled with death and destruction, and I gotta say, making it through June had me feeling like I’d beat one of the monsters in a video game that allows you to level up.
Here’s the sobering thing: If you are reading this, you too have made it.
Beyond all the toils and struggles of this year, we are still here and leaning into the audacity for a better moment, better day, better week and eventually a better world. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, flip that baby into a tequila loaded margarita, or whatever they were saying. Do your best with what you have until you have more.
I think we can all take an enormous note from our King Chadwick Boseman, who when faced with extreme obstacles, did not back down. Instead he pressed into life even harder, with even more fervor, fully emptying himself before all of us. In this way, he may never die because his legacy will continue on.
There’s joy on the horizon. Keep your eyes focused on being and seeing the good and the light. And look, when you need to, take a day off. If you work yourself to death, you will be replaced in a week. Use your vacation days. All of them!
I close with a line from our favorite “innanet” auntie, Tabitha Brown:
“Alright now, y’all go on bout’ y’all business and have the most amazing day. But even if you can’t have a good one, don’t you dare go messin’ up nobody else’s, hear?”