Tomorrow morning, I will be nudged awake by my alarm, a song by Lata Mangeshkar, at 6:30 AM. Still dark out, I’ll put the kettle on to make some unbearably hot tea. I’ll put on my warmest sweater and bundle up in all of my blankets. My little watercolor set and tea in hand, I’ll go out to the bench in my backyard to watch the sunrise. The first sunrise of a new year is said to be auspicious and gives hope for new beginnings. It’s a tradition that I have carried with me from Korea, and one I look forward to every year.
This year was kind of horrible, kind of essential. I am neither happy nor sad to say goodbye to 2019. I’ve spent the last half of the year being somewhat of a hermit. I am learning to appreciate solitude, come to terms with death, and savor being alone. They’re good lessons to learn. I have no interest in dating. I don’t care for going out right now. In some ways, I feel like I’ve put myself in a sort of chrysalis. As Julia Jacklin so eloquently put it:
I know I’ve locked myself in my room, but I’ll open up the door and try to love again soon.Julia Jacklin, “Pressure to Party”
I recently learned the difference between bravery and courage. Bravery denotes a lack of fear in the face of danger. Courage, however, requires your heart. Courage is when you are afraid, but you carry on anyway. I am aiming to be courageous in all that I do.
Tomorrow morning, when I’m doing a little painting of that first sunrise, I know I’ll be thinking of Chris. Were it not for him, I think I’d be too scared to be courageous. Even in death, he is still such a friend, and he continues to give.
This year, I looked at all of the things that bring joy to my life, things I have wanted to pursue like dancing and art and music, but have always lacked the courage to pursue them wholeheartedly. I would tell myself that I wasn’t good enough, always comparing the spot where I was standing to where others were.
For 2020 I’d like to leave all of that behind me.
In Spanish, we have a phrase called dále. You’ve probably heard it in many a Pitbull song. In that context, it roughly translates to come on or go ahead, in an encouraging way. Oh, how wise you are, oh ye sage Pitbull. It’s this phrase I’d like to keep in my mind, to be my mantra from here on out, whenever I find myself faltering in what I think I am capable of.
I went to a poetry workshop the other night (whose instructor sat next to me in high school art, by the way, cue Twilight Zone music) and at the beginning, felt that insecurity and self-doubt. I thought to myself I don’t belong here, with all these talented people. Here I am just rhyming things endlessly in my head like I’m reading Dr. Seuss. That’s trite, isn’t it? Silly. I’m not a writer. All these people are writers. And then I’m here, this imposter.
And then I let that slip away. I just listened and did the writing prompts, and I even shared one of my scribblings. That was after I went into it hell-bent on just sitting silently in the corner the entire way through. In the end, I lost nothing by putting myself out there. My heart was in my throat, not gonna lie, but I went ahead anyway.
With tomorrow’s sunrise, I draw a line in the proverbial sand. I promise to be courageous. For myself, for Chris. And the first winter sun of a new year on my face tomorrow will be the perfect moment of warmth to cement that promise. Maybe Chris will be in that sunray.
For 2020, it’s no more holding back. What’s the point in holding back? What does anyone gain from that? If 2019 has taught me one thing, it’s that life is short, and you’ve got to go out and savor it. I plan for 2020, and this decade, to do exactly that.