I was talking to Renee today about how weird 2021 has been.

Nothing really bad happened to us, personally, this year. But the general anxiety of living through the second year of a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people has been exhausting. In some ways, the day to day of this year, where we are in a constant state of expectation and shifting boundaries, has been much harder to navigate than 2020 was, where the boundaries were more clear.

I was elated when, in February, we drove 2 hours in the snow to get Renee her first vaccine shot. I literally wept at the relief. Finally, I thought. This will all be over.

But it wasn’t over. It still, 11 months later, isn’t over.

Early on, I predicted this was going to last for years and years. I hoped I wasn’t right. But I was right.

Like many of you, we spent this year trying to figure out how to live in this new reality. We spent a lot of time at home, although not as much as we did in 2020. We stretched by traveling, albeit travel with lots of precautions. We ate out more, mostly outside or in empty restaurants. We saw three movies in empty theaters. I met people for coffee. It felt, for a minute, almost normal between the variants.

I became more distrustful of people this year. Instead of being potential allies and friends, they became potential disease vectors. Crowds are unsafe places in this new world in which we live, and people who intentionally seek out crowds became unsafe people. Millions of my fellow Americans intentionally chose not to get vaccinated, placing my immune compromised wife at risk. I am as yet unable to forgive them for that.

This year I prioritized my health in a way I never have before. I committed to daily physical activity – 2.5 mile walks or 30 minutes of swimming nearly every day. I began eating consciously, and along the way lost 48 pounds. I have a set bedtime, and fight hard to get at least 7 hours of sleep.

I built a workshop over the summer, where I now spend my evenings making things that make me happy. It is an extravagance, that creative space, but it makes me happy.

In 2020, I wrote 2 blog posts on my personal blog. This summer I built a new website, where I blog daily and since September 1st have published 84 posts and more than 60,000 words.

I leaned in this year to my identity as a writer, as now I make a not-inconsiderable portion of my income from writing related activities, and in addition to this blog I also publish two newsletters each week (this one and this one.)

So, while a lot of good things happened this year, it was all fought for and won reluctantly.

As I have said before – I don’t set goals. But I do intend to lean further into my identity as a writer and Internet publisher in 2022. I intend to lean into my identity as a craftsperson more in 2022 – expect an online shop where I will sell some of my wares, and more writing about craft. I intend to lean more into my identity as an organizer, as I continue my work organizing faith communities here to make a better Mississippi. But mostly, I intend to continue to believe in a better world than the one in which we currently live, and to strive to live as if that world was already a reality, and by so living, bring it a little closer to fruition.

Happy New Year, friends. I wish you every good thing.


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