The news of Chadwick Boseman’s tragic death came two days before my birthday this year. And like so many I felt the shock, the confusion, the injustice…followed immediately by the awe at this man who had created so much in the last four years while carrying the burden – physical, emotional, mental – of the fight that he was in against mortality. His heroism, his bravery, was suddenly exponentially magnified through the lens of the knowledge that so many of us were just now receiving of his fight.
But something else struck me almost immediately as well, something unexpected.
Amidst all of the tweets and posts I saw reacting to his passing, I saw so many that said “f**k 2020” or “I wish 2020 would just end” or “I hate this year”…so many people lamenting the year in which we have seen some unprecedented hardships and challenges along with some that are just part of life.
Further, I realized that I had heard this lament for a few years now, only about the individual year in question – 2019, 2018, 2017 – it was just becoming more and more prevalent as time went on as a response to tragedy or pain. I was seeing it in my feed, in text threads, in conversations.
People were wishing away time. The one resource we can never make more of.
I can understand wanting to say screw Covid, screw racism and climate change, screw hatred and pain and loss and tragedy…but I just can’t get behind “screw 2020”. Or 2019 or 18 or any year before that. Not anymore.
I’ve been guilty of wishing away time more often than I care to admit. For so many years, I struggled on and off with depression – sometimes low grade, sometimes deep dark, cavernous sadness – and yes, I wished away the time. I slept away hours, days, wishing that somehow the sadness would just end, the day would go away and I’d wake up happy…even times when I was living a life that was so blessed with abundance in ways I couldn’t appreciate. I imagined there was a time in the future that, if I could just get to it, I would somehow erase the pain I was feeling, even while beautiful things were happening all around me that I just couldn’t see through all the dark that I could.
When I look back now, thinking of Chadwick and Naya and Kobe and more and other bright souls we lost too soon, and family and friends that are no longer with us on this plane, and personally having come out the other side of that dark time, I can never ever bring myself again to wish away time because of tragedy or pain…if anything, that pain only makes me realize even more how important it is to stay the course. Even when I’m feeling intensely uncomfortable things, even through struggle and grief and hardship, I find myself leaning into the experience of it, knowing the moment, the minute, the hour will pass no matter what, so I would rather lean into the living of the whole moment – good or bad, joyous or painful – than wish that time away. And knowing that if and when I do pass on to wherever or whatever follows this life, if I have the ability to look back on it from that vantage point, I will want to see a life relished in every way, not a life I wished away because it wasn’t all the perfect package I wanted in every moment.
I can’t imagine what it’s like now to be someone who was lucky enough to work with or know Chadwick and spend time with him this last four years and only to learn of his fight with cancer now, but what I can imagine is him laughing and inspiring people with his talent and strength before that information was made public…I can imagine him holding that information close so he could continue to relish the life he was fighting for and make each day a chance for beauty and grace and humor and power. And I can look at this year knowing that amidst all of the challenges – personal, local, national, global – there are moments to be savored and to hold dear as well. It seems the best way to honor his life, and the loss we feel with him and so many others gone now. Living – living through, living with, just … living.
2020, we’re not done with you yet.