As the sun set on 2019, and we were all gathered-or not; but watching on TV- as the last year of our most recent decade passed. I, like so many, as always was quietly stirred inside and filled with much anticipation and excitement, for the beginning of a new year. A new decade. The ball begins it’s decent and the hosts of our chosen coverage began to pump up the watching masses as the countdown commenced. 10…9…8….7…6….5…4….3…2….1….Happy New Year!!!! As the confetti flew and the fireworks erupted, we hugged, we kissed, we high fived and the celebrations began, those watching quietly a home clicked off their sets and headed off to bed. But no matter how you chose to enjoy the closing of 2019, and the opening of 2020, I would speculate that even the least celebratory of us still had a bit of a jolt of eagerness inside of them. How could you not? New Year’s Eve and Day are always a special time. It is almost like the door to new opportunities and challenges is once again opening and for one 24 hour period we get to sort of “Start over” again. En Masse, we have forgotten at least temporarily the past struggles, and look ahead to a much brighter day and with much hope. In one 24 hour period, the world, at large is united in Hope, Jubilation, and friendship as we embark on the journey ahead, of tacking another year and doing the best that we can to make this world a better place.

And then 2020 happened.

I have always been the “Eternal Optimist”. I have always held on to the motto “No matter what, its gonna be okay”. That has at many times, been the one slogan that has kept me going. And coming into this year and even now I still keep it. Because I still believe it. But this year has been hands down the most challenging of my life personally. And not just because of covid either. Just. Fucking life man. 2020 has brought many blessings into our lives collectively. For us, We have purchased our first home, a new vehicle, we were granted custody of luke, I started a company of my own, I have been asked to Join the Lake County Drug Court Team, I have authored several Bill Proposals that have been accepted into Legislature and are gaining some love down in Indy. We celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary, and we have had some really special and fun times this year, mostly in the warmer months when we could be outside. So, no, 2020 has not been a total wash out, but I, like so many I am sure cannot seem to not feel like it has been.

Even if you personally have been mostly unaffected during this year, directly speaking that is, I would venture a guess that even you have felt the weight of the world on your shoulders at one point or another. Just the added stress, the unknown, or maybe just the annoying people on the news or social media has been enough to ruffle your feathers more so than a normal year. It’s been weird. To say the least. We have seen some crazy, sad, stressful and ugly shit this year. I mean, Kobe Bryant died. doesn’t that seem so long ago? It does for me. My Wife and I were just talking about that the other day. Seems like Five Years ago. But it was only like 11 months. Time has really done a weird twist this year. Time has really proven itself irrelevant to me. Sometimes it feels like this year has been a blink, and other times it feels like a decade. With all of the added chaos, uncertainty, politico, Covid, Unrest, it has really just compounded so much into a very large, hard to swallow pill. And I have seen so many folks out there, who continue to carry on as if completely unbothered by all that this year has presented us with, but yet clearly carry with them a new found hatred for “The Other Side” and that, makes you just as, if not more affected than most. I have seen so many hardened hearts, so much judgement, condemnation, ridicule, and ugliness come out; merely as a biproduct of this crazy year. It is very sad to me. Especially when I see who it is that is showing these types of colors. Not going to point them out, but I see it.

And what is to me, poetic about all of this, is that going into this year the trending slogan of hope and excitement on all the Hashtags and Social Media Accounts was this: “20 20 Vision”.

How’s your vision now?

I often use the word turbulent when I write, and I believe that is just simply put, one of the best words to describe this human experience that we all find ourselves in. Full of ups and downs. Hopes and fears. Ebbs and flows. Nothing is certain, and no matter how similar each day seems, they’re never actually the same. And of all of the years that I have been alive, no year for me has ever embodied that thought, that word- Turbulent, than 2020.

Many of us have remained home as best we can. We avoid the simple pleasures that we once enjoyed freely, going to the movies, or a favorite restaurant. We shop from home. Many of us have even been forced out of work and find ourselves over drafting accounts to pay a bill, or deciding which bill is priority over the rest. We’re e-learning now, we Zoom thanksgiving, we are missing time with our friends and loved ones. And some of us, like my family and I, have lost someone very dear to us to Covid. And the sick Irony to that last sentence there, is that I was once someone who discarded Covid as some bullshit over blown propaganda. I do not feel that way about things today. So yes, “2020 Vision” does in fact seem to be the appropriate Hashtag. At least for me. 2020 has corrected my vision in so many ways. It has softened my heart, it has enlarged my empathy to so many causes, ideas, and to other human being’s lives that I was once so unexposed to and ignorant of. Not ignorant in an unsophisticated way, as so many people choose to use that word. But ignorant in an uneducated about way, an uninformed way. Lacking knowledge on a particular topic way. I have seen so much good, and so much bad all in the same year it makes my head spin when I think about it.

Just to put on the scales of balance for illustration purposes: We bought our dream home in March, and in August my brother and protector, my best friend Died all alone in a hospital with no one by his side. From the Corona Virus. I would burn this house to the ground and roast marshmallows on the flames if I could have him back. He is and always will be one of the finest human beings to ever walk this earth.

But as 2020 begins to come to a close, with nothing but Christmas in between now and 2021, I believe that I have gained some valuable perspective on a number of things. And it was hard won too. I damn near completely lost my mind this year. I was in one of the craziest and darkest places that I have ever been. Stress, anxiety, Marriage, a new home, money, kids, covid, expectations, reality, acceptance, family, isolation. Talk about one of the most fucked up mindsets I have had in a very long time. And I almost pissed everything away as a result. All of this ended up in one of the most painful mental growth spurts that I have ever had. But also came to culmination into some of the sweetest realizations I have had the joy of experiencing… I am in fact a very blessed man, and my family loves me very much. Family is everything, Health is wealth, and no matter what it is going to be okay. Yeah, so maybe it did take the help of some more therapy and Zoloft, so what? What kind of man would I be if I constantly talked about “reaching out for help”, If I too didn’t do so? I have never nor will I ever speak about how I have it all together and am some how just miraculously cured from 30 years of trauma and poor mental health. I seek help when I need it. And this year has really humbled me and at times really kicked my ass. Which, to be honest was kind of needed. Sometimes I can get a little “too big for my britches” as my grama used to say. And though the struggles will continue, the good and bad times will come and go as they always have, this I know.

But my thoughts and Prayers this morning are that I truly hope we all, every one of us have obtained something good, special, and wholesome from this year. Whether it is appreciation for what we do have, empathy for others, understanding, kindness, or maybe the desire to advocate and champion some much needed reforms in our own communities. I can personally admit that I am recovering, not just from heroin addiction, but from my old ways of thinking, old judgement, prejudices, bitterness, resentment, grudges, and so many old mindsets. Even though the holiday rush is squeezing in on us, and this year has been a whirlwind, and we are not out of the woods yet- I feel like I have finally grown up. I feel like I have finally matured enough to not be a fucking crazy person and I have emotionally and mentally healed enough to keep those old skeletons at bay. It’s crazy how time and pressure makes diamonds, and likewise can make us grow and shine. No matter how painful the process is. I feel like I have some peace in my heart as this year comes to a close. Yes, I will always miss my brother, and I will always look back on my past mistakes and fuck ups with conviction and remorse, but I no longer have to be held hostage by either, and I know that if there is anything I can do to Honor my brother, it is to continue to stay clean and do my best to personify all of the traits that I respected so much in him.

My prayer this morning is that all of you stay well, and take care of yourselves and each other. That your next year be filled with increase and joy. That 2021 be equally, but oppositely amazing to the stress and chaos that 2020 has been thus far. I pray that We have all found some poetic and hard won life lessons, and garnered a new mindset and appreciation for this special thing called life. 2020 has not been the year of getting what we want, but for appreciating all and who we do have.

All life is precious. Feelings are not facts. There is no big me, little you. or little me, big you. No mercy for me and justice for you. Everyone struggles, and others who struggle are not your enemy. May we all be kind and empathetic towards one another in the coming months and years. No one is competition, I hope we all make it.


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