Last year as I stood on the cusp of 2016, I felt ready to take on the world. I was ready to conquer something, to raid and pillage as if the glory and treasure and beauty of the year was something to be broken into. I was preparing for a new job, Beautiful had just entered my life again, and I felt a new surge of purpose and drive. I was the hammer and I was ready to beat the year into submission.
And my god, did the year ever fight back and teach me a lesson never to try and do that again.
My relationship imploded. My job took me out of home and routine and family and friends for such a long time that I almost burned out. I mean let’s be completely honest here, I love this blog and I love this community, but this is not the writing or circumstances of a man who’s had that great of a year. Hahah. So I’ll concede to 2016. You win, year.
I tried to take on the year through brute force and sheer will. I thought I was the ferocious viking landing on the shores of 2016 with an axe and a torch ready to claim everything for my own. But, of course with a little bit of research, I find out that even the vikings weren’t as violently viking-ish as I thought.
The vikings conquered most of Europe through romantic family holidays. I mean come on, how iconically European is that. It’s true though. Turns out historians were wrong in assuming that most of the raiding parties that landed on the mainland comprised solely of men. When you actually look at the items left at the settlements and the DNA of the ancient buried, you find that a good number of the travelers were women and even children. They didn’t conquer Europe, they inhabited it. Men would bring women along, which meant they could have children, which meant establishing communities further and further along their routes, meaning trade and assimilation and expanding territories. We know that vikings didn’t just go from village to village and rape women, but that while there was definitely instances of this, because of the rigorous regimen the vikings had of cleaning themselves and caring for their appearance, many women were seduced and enticed by the clean, well-groomed vikings. We know that their great halls were not war rooms or places of violence, but were grand meeting spaces for lords and nobles to strengthen their power through feasts, parties, luxurious meats and cheeses, and barrels and barrels and barrels worth of beer and mead.
So what does this mean? It means that the vikings didn’t accomplish as much as they did on the edge of a sword. They did it through open, outstretched hands.
2016 beat and battered me to a pulp. But I learned not to thrash and wail and strike back. I wanted to conquer love, work, and happiness. Instead of going out into the world and trying to claim as much of it as I could from others, I learned to bring it along and plant it in the memories and places and experiences that meant the most to me. All these things I wanted: love, acceptance, warmth, happiness, they weren’t resources someone else had that I had to take from them. I didn’t have to take my sense of joy, my feelings of warmth, my tender love, or my hopeful happiness from Beautiful. Maybe she had none to give in the first place, or maybe it wasn’t mine to take, but the point is I’ve learned instead to cultivate and grow these things that I want in the places I want to find them. To do as the vikings, and bring what I have along the route, and plant them as I go, so that eventually I can find it in anything and everything. In anyone, and everyone, and maybe hopefully one day as I’ve learned to grow and appreciate and nurture and cherish and recognize, in a special someone.
I used to look at someone like Beautiful and ask myself ‘what happiness can I derive from her’. Now I am trying instead to look at someone and see what love there is to grow with them, to experience with them, to share with them. I looked onto 2016 thinking I was never going to be alone again, and by mid-2016 I was afraid I would never be able to live alone. Now I am redefining my relationship with myself and forcing myself to be with something that I thought was going to scare me to my very core.
As yesterday, and today (with its lingering effects) has clearly shown, I’m not done yet. I can still be taken over the edge of what it is I’ve been skirting and trying to avoid for so long. If the world can’t rid me of the pain and reminders, I’ll need to learn to do it myself. I can’t tell you how much sleep I lost last night because of her message. Or how tempted I was to go back to that blog, fearful of finding that while I have been trying to move on, she’s built some shrine to this other man. I wish I could say that the course and journey of her life has no impact on me anymore. But the gravity of our paths still keeps me curving ever slightly inward. I am learning to increase my orbit, and one day I hope to be free of the pull.
I’ve done a lot of things this past year that I’m not proud of. I might have ruined legitimate potential possibilities for romance. I might have neglected the relationships I already had with friends and family. I’ve said some things, not said some things, and either through action or inaction, I recognize I’ve placed myself exactly where I am right now, no one else. These are my things to acknowledge and to do with what I please. I could run away from them. I could chalk them up to youth and naivete and inexperience. I could, as one very close and dear community member has pointed out today, keep opening up the wound because I like the pain. I don’t think I’m fully ready yet to close the chapter on these things. I don’t think I can as yet delude myself into thinking I’ve grown beyond these mistakes.
But I’ve also done some incredible things I never thought I’d get to do. I’ve opened myself up to new experiences and activities. Picked up new hobbies. I’ve strengthened and deepened some existing relationships, and as with some members of my family, created some new relationships that didn’t exist before. I started a blog. I wrote more this year than I probably did when I was in college, and all of it was voluntary. I found a voice and a platform for my thoughts and experiences that helped me grow. I wrote the first draft of a novel. One that I want to revisit and really dive into, to experience the pain and drive and hunger to have your story put out there for the world.
I just want to live and grow for 2017. I mean I have hopes and dreams for the year of course. I hope and yearn for love. For a deep and fulfilling relationship. I dream about maybe finding a job that is financially, personally, and emotionally nurturing and fulfilling. Maybe it’s in this company still, maybe it’s not. I listened to a speaker recently talking about how workers in my generation are seeking fulfillment in their careers which is a good thing, but lack the patience and the work ethic to realize it comes not with an immediate job but maybe over time as you earn it. He likened the desire for fulfillment and impact like the summit of the mountain, so we see the peak and we know what it is and what we want, but we fail to see the mountain in front of us. So I do have some hopes and plans and intentions for the year. But I won’t dictate my year by its successes or failures. I’d still like to practice what I’ve learned from the vikings. Grow along the journey, and realize how much further you can go because of it.
I hope you all have had a satisfying, enjoyable, or at the very least memorable year. I don’t know at which point in the year’s journey you found me or I found you, but we’ll be starting a new year together and I look forward to that. Once again I will be spending some time with family and friends over the next few days so I may not get to be on here as much, but I do want to wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy new year filled with promise.
Man: 143 Loneliness: 30