Navel Gazing at the End of the Year… By Nia Hampton
Well it’s finally here. The last week of 2016 is upon us. And what a year it’s been. So many emotional highs and lows, so many “Wtf” and “seriously?” moments. But also a few “wow, that’s nice” and a bit of “aww-how sweet”. 2016 was a sobering year, an end of an era-a few eras really. We saw the end of Vine, lost too many musical giants (George Michael just yesterday) and witnessed the beginning of the end of democracy as we know it in the western world. Many of us are waiting for this new year with hope and fear in our eyes. If anything 2016 humbled us all. Taught us that there are things worth fighting for, and that we must end our collective apathy if we want to get anything done. Personally, I grew even more convicted in my quest for freedom and even began moving on self-publishing my third e-book on the subject. In many of my conversations with my friends, everyone seems to be closing major chapters this year and pondering the ramifications of what that will mean.
Yesterday I posted on my FB wall that the biggest revelation of my year has been that I really have no idea what I’m doing. I have dreams and goals, but if someone were to ask me to write a plan for next year it would be scarce and full of ideals, and this lack of knowing what I want is really new for me. I’ve always been a very determined and specific person. But something about this year knocked the wind out of me honestly. It feels like too much work to even plan for the next week, let alone next year. And I don’t think I’m alone in this sentiment.
So what do we do about this, this incredibly new feeling of not knowing what to do next? A good friend of mine, Adrian McCray gave me some really good advice. “I listened to Bernice Reagon of Sweet Honey In The Rock explain the rationale for a song (We’ll Understand it Better By and By) they were about to sing and the unnecessary need to “figure it all out” BEFORE moving. She said that the philosophy of African Americans in the early 1900s was the opposite. “Do the best yuh know to do…with what little yuh know…today”… Do that everyday…and you might never know what you are doing…but it will be done.”
A verse from “By and By” (written by Charles Tindley in 1905):
Temptations, hidden snares
often take us unawares,
and our hearts are made to bleed
for a thoughtless word or deed;
and we wonder why the test
when we try to do our best,
but we’ll understand it better by and by.
“People thought it was about religion and waiting to go to heaven. But it was/is about moving forward even when “real” life gives you no rationale to do so. Today, we move…tomorrow, we’ll understand. Sounds backwards…but it’s easier to steer a moving car…not a parked car.” said Adrian. The analogy about the car sticks with me the most, as my life is very much a moving car and it’s a bit fast. As the year ends, it’s slowed up some and allowed me to see how far I’ve come. And now I’m looking out the window and realizing I’m in a place different than where I started. What do I do with all this information, what do I do in this new place? Why am I so afraid? Was it not I who put my foot on the pedal in the first place?
Jason Harris of newfuturism.com told me that the dizziness of stopping and observing my new surrounding is “the sound of my acculturation exploding.” According to him, acculturation is the mores and values we are born into. And apparently mine may be exploding as I’ve pushed myself beyond what I even thought was possible. I think we all have. Donald Trump being president is probably the biggest example of this. So now, as we all ponder our collective future, the reality of the massive changes we’re experiencing in real time can be anxiety producing. And unfortunately, this time- I don’t have the answers Sway. All I can do is suggest we all get the rest our bodies need, and decompress with a pen and pad to catch all of the brilliant end of the year revelations that are waiting to be expressed. Be safe, be with the ones you love, and if you can’t be there, love the one’s you’re with. See you in 2017.