Don’t Wish It Away

It’s going to be a long winter.

This has been a refrain in my head on every dreary cold day; I’ve said it almost like it’s an inevitable curse. The heavy sigh that has become my pandemic side-kick finds its way out of my mouth, and I typically say it again, adding a couple of “o”s to make it a loooooong winter.

I worry about the number of narratives out there encouraging us all to rush to welcome 2021, and to wish 2020 away. On one hand, I get it—what a truly devastating and horrible year it has been for so many people. But, even if I’m the only one giving rise to this, let me implore you not to wish it away. Don’t wish it away because to focus all of your hopes and energy on moving past 2020 won’t negate the collective pain we’ve been through.

And I say this from experience. Because I wished 2017 away with it’s Not Cancer and heavy unknowns. I wished 2018 away with it’s shattered fibula and it’s long recovery. And I felt the pull to wish 2019 away when it ended in overwhelming grief at the loss of my dad. If you wish 2020 away without standing in the midst of all the loss and pain it has given you, you will still be carrying it a year from now, and it will only keep getting heavier.

Last winter, I told my therapist I wanted to be like the moss; steady, thriving, beaming brightest on the dreariest days. I let last winter teach me how to be like moss. I let it teach me because I didn’t run away from the hard lessons of just how simple and yet how insanely complicated it is to be still and accept things as they are. The moss endures the bitterness of winter without wishing its painful reality away. I let last winter teach me how to be like the moss on my own dreary days and in my own dreadfully long winters.

So, maybe it will be a long winter, but what if it’s a blessing instead of a curse? What if we take a few minutes to stand in the damp, cold forest of our hearts and see that what we think is ready to be tossed out is actually the grounding that we need to grow? What if as we stand there we can see not just all that we’ve lost, but how strong it has or is making us. It’s going to be a long winter, but we were made for this, so don’t wish it away.

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