Misery loves company.
These days, misery seems to be a virtue. Anti-social media has become a contest of sorts to see who can share the most disturbing or controversial news. The more complaining about how terrible everything is, the more we can relate, and the more we show we care.
For some, 2020 was an incredibly difficult year. There’s been death, disease, and discord. Many have lost their jobs, their businesses, and their savings. Most of us have been restricted in our movements, our connections with loved ones, and our normal routines. It’s been an incredibly difficult year for some. However, I’d like to point out a couple of false impressions.
First, just because some things have been undesirable, doesn’t mean it’s been all bad.
Second, if you’ve had some victories, progress, and awesome experiences, it doesn’t mean that you are any less compassionate toward those less fortunate, nor does it mean that you’re out of touch with reality.
To be completely honest, 2020 has been an awesome year for Tali and I.
We moved to the ranch, which was a dream of ours that we thought was still two years down the road.
We celebrated our first-year wedding anniversary.
We hosted family and friends on the ranch.
We got a new kitten that has grown to be a highly entertaining member of the family.
I published my first book.
Tali and I have re-imagined and continue to re-invent our business, The Lyceum.
We’ve met new neighbors, discovered new favorite local shops, and have barely scratched the surface of exploring the local countryside.
We’ve read more books, wrote more articles, and Tali has picked up learning the Cello and speaking Italian.
We’ve had the pleasure of spending more time with my parents.
We’re learning how to homestead, grow and preserve food, manage the land, and become more self-reliant.
That’s a quick list of 10 pretty awesome things off the top of my head. I could probably come up with 10 more without much effort. For me to call 2020 anything but a great year would be hypocritical.
Yet, by the narrative of social media, I’m supposed to be depressed, fearful, and angry. Supposed to be pissed at the other political party. Supposed to be afraid to leave my house. Supposed to be depressed by the state of the world.
I’m not. I’m just not. Mostly by choice. I’m not pissed at the other party because I don’t affiliate with any political party. I’m not afraid to leave my house, and I’m not living my life in trepidation for what the future might hold for us. I’m too busy living the life I have right now, and building toward my vision of the future.
I’d be lying if I said things don’t get to me once in a while. I’m not advocating for many of the things that are happening in the world. Sometimes, I even get hit with a feeling of paralysis; mired down in the emotions that come on when I’m catching up on the latest news cycle. But that exposure is a choice. My response is a choice. My actions are, for the most part, my choice.
When the first shutdown had been announced back in early March of 2020, the family ranch had been on our Vision board for more than a year. We had assumed it would take us another two years to pay off our debts and establish some form of remote income that would allow us to move. But when Tali and I both lost our jobs in the same couple of days, we made the decision to make the move. Within 10 days we had settled our obligations in Portland, packed up our entire life’s belongings and our new kitten, Max, and headed across the state.
It’s not the ideal transition we had hoped for. We still carry our three largest debts with us, and we still don’t have steady incomes. But we both feel that the move out here was a great decision. It was in line with our Vision, and we took action instead of waiting to see what or who was going to impact our lives next.
I’m proud of the fact that we took swift action. The alternative would have been sitting in our apartment, navel-gazing, and waiting to see just how we would get through it all. We chose to look at the major setback as an opportunity to move closer to our Vision.
Am I bragging? Ya. I suppose a little bit.
We don’t take lightly the opportunities that we’ve been given. We are grateful every day. But I refuse to feel guilty for having such a great year.
What I do hope, is that more people will begin to separate themselves from the narrative of tragedy-as-a-virtue. We don’t need to wallow in sorrow in order to have compassion for those who are less fortunate. We don’t need to make fear-based decisions. We don’t need to hate others in order to take a principled stand. We certainly don’t need to wear the heavy drapery of victimhood.
It’s ok to be doing well, despite the chaos that the world is experiencing. In fact, we need more people to be doing better. That’s the only way the world will heal.
Count your blessings.
Don’t apologize for it.