Notes on 2022, a Benediction for 2023

This year, 2022, I grew tired of the metaphors and cliches available for me to make sense of life. Everything I would reach for to describe things was the language of war, or domination, or colonialism, or capitalism, and usually so pat as to preclude all possibilities of other ways of thinking or framing. My curiosity in the past few years has led me to a host of writers who see beyond the oppressions that structure our world today. As I have been persuaded by their visions and embraced the political lenses that orient me towards those futures, I found that I needed new language that was not mired in the bullshit that got us to where we are.

In therapy, while describing a period of healing that I undertook this year, I described myself as like a plant that has been longing for water. I was alive, I was not in danger of death, but I was parched, my leaves were droopy. The soil around me was brittle, my roots were grasping for nutrients that were not there. The healing—which was a process of mapping out trauma I was holding in specific places in my body, then flooding those muscles with gratitude and slow invitations to see that the trauma was no longer my reality—felt like a rich rain storm. Everything that had slowed in dessication was returning to fullness, roots were taking up the water and expanding in the soil, and my leaves were returning to strength to face the sun.

This metaphor was the best description I could find in the moment, and it came to me because I have a plant on my desk that lets me know when I have waited too long in watering it by drooping and preserving its strength. Thanks to that plant I gained a new way of thinking about my needs.

This year has involved so much healing, so much growing, so much stretching. Figuratively, but also on that last point, literally, because this year I discovered how helpful yoga is in paying attention to my body. For too long I treated my body as a machine. I gave it minimal maintenance, ensured I had fuel, and expected it to be the vehicle for carrying around my brain (where everything important happened, of course). This year, I began to understand how fucked up that framing is, and began to understand my body as an ecosystem. An ecosystem has feedback loops and flows and lots of symbiosis and collaboration. An ecosystem cannot be reduced to its constituent parts like a machine; similarly I could not treat my emotions as separate from my physical well-being as separate from the ways I was spending my time. This year I started the life-long journey of noticing the ways these things work together and the ways that I (as body/mind/energy) adapt and respond while living day-to-day.

An ecosystem is subject to seasonality, is subject to external forces, is never self-supporting. This new way of making sense of myself has given me opportunity to explore pleasure (thank you adrienne maree brown for writing books that help here), to name my needs, and to see how past experiences have continued to linger in my current ways of being. I am grateful for the ways 2022 helped me start to explore the landscape of my being.

Many years ago I began to think of relationships between people as small universes. Some universes expand, some shrink, some die, and some thrive. This year, I moved in with my partner and the universe we have between us began to reveal itself. If our origin was a big bang of proportions neither of us knew was possible, then this year we saw how many new possibilities we created in the aftermath of that big bang. We manifested galaxies of curiosity, star fields of adventure, and many nebula of healing and safety that could create stars we never knew we were allowed to imagine existing. This year we made a home together, had some of the best meals of our lives on our travels, and created space for ourselves to stop being forced to move at the speed of capitalism or scarcity. “Everything we create is really great” she told me recently, and our universe is ongoing evidence of that.

There is more I could write, including about parenting and joy and more, but I think I will keep those thoughts for the journal. It’s been my occasional ritual to write a benediction for the coming year on this site, as a way of manifesting some possibilities for the next trip around the sun. I’ll end here with the same.

in 2023

may we bloom, sprout, branch, leaf, and root in liberational ways

may we see how much of this way of arranging human society exists solely because we treat it as inevitable

may we remember that it’s never inevitable

no future is inevitable.

may we find the gaps in the canopy and grow towards the sun.

may we take inspiration from lichens and moss, and thrive in the quiet places

may we take inspiration from termites and rust, and refuse to let the human world be stable

may we treat power with the respect it deserves (none)

may we imagine better futures, and find ways to make them reality.

may we rest, and enjoy pleasure, and be alive, and revel in it.

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