NOTE: This blog post was originally written in mid-December. I had intended to post it when it was written, but I forgot to do it first, before putting it into my mid-December newsletter so I could easily link to it. I ran out of time to reformat it as a blog post, for reasons you'll learn as you read. Right around that time, my virtual assistant, who is based in the Philippines, went offline because her home was destroyed by the big typhoon that hit the region. Thankfully, she and her family survived, but they are still putting the pieces back together and waiting for electricity for their part of town to come back online. Between my holiday pause and the juggling required to get a temporary substitute on board, we just weren't able to get this posted until today. But I thought it was still relevant, even if posted a month later. So here goes.
In mid-December, I was sitting at the kitchen table, procrastinating on writing this blog/newsletter--searching for a theme and trying to find the internal motivation to sit down at the computer when all I wanted to do was enjoy the holiday visit of my daughter, my son-in-law and my grandson. In the background, I heard my grandson greet his dad at the door (after waiting 30 minutes for him to return from a walk) to express his latest outrage: his mom had the audacity to make him change out of his pajamas so they could be washed. Outrageous indeed!
And suddenly I had to laugh, uncontrollably. My grandson's outrage and complaints reminded me that 8-year-olds can only see the world from their own perspective. And from my grandson's perspective, it's absolutely true and overwhelmingly important. And this is just "the way life is."
Like so many billions of people around the world, I've been fighting (and, on my better days, trying to avoid fighting) the reality of life today, in the midst of the only worldwide pandemic during our lifetime. It's up, it's down. There's hope, there's despair. There's grief, there's joy. There's loss and there is abundance. There's divisiveness, there's harmony. There's unfairness and there are millions of people working to remake the world in a more equitable fashion. There are people who can't see the good and people who can't see the bad. It's all there, simultaneously. And I so want to control it, even though I know I can't. And that pisses me off on a regular basis!
It seems entirely appropriate that I am writing this email on December 21st, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The day with the least light. Maybe this is finally the low point, and the light will begin to return to our world in ever greater quantities. Or maybe we can just create our own light.
As I was looking through recent photos taken since my daughter and her family arrived on Wednesday, I realized they were a perfect metaphor for where we are as a world, and where I hope we can go. So I thought I would share some of these photos and the lessons I'm taking from them. I hope they may provide a little point of light in this crazy time in history.
We were finally able to celebrate my daughter's completion of her PhD in Economics, at the first in-person commencement ceremony held at the University of New Mexico in two years. She defended her dissertation in person one week before the world shut down, and has been looking for a job ever since.
The "Pit" (as the UNM arena is affectionately known locally) was almost empty by pre-pandemic standards. Seeing so many empty seats was bittersweet, and reminded us all that the pandemic was still in full swing. But at the same time, the joy of celebrating the accomplishments of these young people who worked so hard for so many years was apparent everywhere we looked. And simply hearing the brass choir serenade the graduates as they entered the arena and the mariachi band play as they left brought tears to many eyes, like mine, that hadn't enjoyed live music in two years.
My daughter with her PhD advisor, celebrating the occasion. We're so proud of her! And so glad that we all got to participate in this important rite of passage.
Celebrating with the other Economics PhD grads from around the world, including Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and China.
Last night, we visited the annual "River of Lights" display at the Botanic Gardens in Albuquerque. As we came close to the giant dinosaur, it seemed overwhelmingly large--one of those "unconquerable" things in life. But with a bit of distance, we were able to see the whole picture, and it didn't seem so impossible. Just as my grandson didn't have the perspective, in the moment of his PJ disappointment, to see the bigger picture, I know that many of the challenges and sorrows and disappointments of the last two years will take on a new flavor with the passage of time and distance.
Although we'll never forget the "time of masks," some day this will be a story we tell to future generations. And the light is still there! We just have to look for it.
Sometimes, we have to back up and take a panoramic view in order to truly appreciate the beauty, just as in this shot of the African savannah lit up with animals last night.
And the hippos lurking under the surface will never go away! There will always be challenges and disappointments, sadness and loss. It's a part of life. Fighting it only makes the bad times last longer.
My grandson loved posing as a butterfly last night, the symbol of transformation. I truly believe that the world will ultimately emerge from this time as a different, more beautiful world. That's what keeps me going when the up's and down's of life and business are doing their very best to kick me off my game. And if enough people hold true to that vision, it will happen!
And it's always important to remember that everyone's viewpoint is different! (I hope it was just the random second captured by my camera that caused the look of fright/surprise/? caught in my son-in-law's eyes.)
So, there you have it for this year. I'm going to take the rest of the year off to enjoy the season with my family. I'll be back in touch in early January.
See you next year!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!
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