I originally wrote this very naive, simplistic, and optimistic post in January of 2018. I guess it is a good thing we can’t see the future, whether it was my family’s personal struggle of January 2020 or the entire nation’s chaos of the current year. But in the end the sentiment is the same. Day by day, look for the good, etc…with one caveat. There will be days when all you can do is look for that one bright spot in a dreary day. And on those days, that is enough. But on others, do everything you can to be the change that this country – and this world needs. Regardless of the month of the year.
January has never been my favorite month. With Christmas and the holidays a memory and spring not yet on the horizon, January can be bleak and drab. The first shiny days of the new year bring excitement that often wanes when expectations and resolutions are found to be both unrealistic and unsustainable. The weather is either cold (yet without the snow that we Southerners long for) or just dreary, and I often find myself wishing away this month in anticipation of days ahead. Today was one such morning.
School just began again yesterday and I already have a child sick at home. There is illness and sadness on both sides of our families as Trever recently lost an aunt to cancer and an aunt of mine is beginning what I pray will be a successful fight against the disease. My Facebook newsfeed brings stories of sadness in the death a child who is a friend of a friend and another teenager I read about who is fighting for his life in a coma. And those concerns do not even begin to touch on the state of our country or the world for that matter, but for the sake of this conversation and brevity, I will stop there.
With all of these things on my mind, I parked, as I sometimes do, at a lake on the way into town, just to have a minute to collect my thoughts. Although it was hardly a picture perfect day, I took a couple of photos of the lake – the bare limbs of trees reaching into an overcast sky of gray. As I sat in the car listening to the birds and looking out over the fog shrouded water, I noticed a movement in a tree in my line of sight. A flash of brilliant blue in the sea of gray, a vibrant blue jay sat on a limb looking back at me. Zooming in my camera phone as far as it would go, I tried in vain to capture the beauty of the bird several yards away. When I saw the picture would not be close enough for detail, I even tried to quietly sneak up on him, but to no avail. He simply hopped higher and higher into the tree and then flew away, eluding my attempts to photograph him.I am hardly an ornithologist but I recalled always hearing that blue jays were “mean” so I later read up on them a little bit. “Noisy, bold, aggressive” were some descriptors but I also read the words “intelligent, complex” with “tight family bonds.” For my purposes and observations, I just know that it was pretty. And it was a reminder that even in the dark bleak days of winter, there is always beauty, there is always life, and there is always something to pursue.
So as we continue to plod through the month, I am personally going to work on redefining January – not as a month of dreary weather, failed expectations, short days and long nights. But as a month full of daily opportunities to see color in the gray and appreciate the joy in the ordinary. Moreover, I endeavor to acknowledge that this month, like every month, is full of days that will never come again and should be appreciated for what they are….another day to live and love and see the beauty in the world around me.
-Karri Temple Brackett
January 9, 2018