These last few months I’ve tried to stay quiet. Scroll through my social media feeds and you will see reposts from Tumblr, some chit-chat about books I’d like, or my growing obsession with all things British, but you won’t see many personal statements save the occasional Holiday greeting or writing status update. If social media is a sampling of a person’s life, then mine should tell you one thing: I am processing.
Processing. It’s a word I use a lot to describe my need to riddle out difficult situations without being bothered for an opinion on the subject. Sometimes, I do it while writing, others by griping, and occasionally, by watching Downton Abbey or Harry Potter and taking quizzes online to find out what fictional city I belong in (Hogsmeade) or what literary character I am most like (Sherlock?). It’s necessary, healing, and made better with a very large cup of tea or whiskey, or whiskey in tea. I’m not partial.
This year has been hard, and not just for me. I would challenge you to find a single person in your life that would categorize 2014 as anything but rocky.
We live in a dark and broken world, one populated by people determined to wreck dreams, destroy lives, take lives, confine lives. It is a world where a young man is gunned down and then accused, not accused and then tried. A world where girls are stolen from schools or given away by their families, raped, brainwashed, lost. A world where schools are not safe places because bullying runs rampant, boxes are still built for kids to stay firmly inside, and bullets might fly, taking lives barely lived. It is a world where wars escalate, and death tolls rise.
But it is also a world where voices can unify across race and religion, for change, for justice, just to be heard for a moment, together. Where hashtags get the word out to #bringbackourgirls, to remind us #weneeddiversebooks, and for better or worse, start discussions about feminism, sexism, racism, and sometimes are the only way to follow stories being ignored by major media outlets. It’s a world where a teenage boy from Texas can independently produce a music video about gender stereotypes and watch it climb past 1 million views.
It’s a world where my son lives, plays, learns, and grows. Where he can pray to meet the Pink Power Ranger, and watch his prayers be answered. It’s a world where he knows, no matter what, his mom and dad love him, his mom and dad listen to him. Regardless of how bleak or bright this world may be at times, it is his world. It is my world.
This year was a batter-ram. It was a punch in the gut, a smack in the face, an ugly whisper in my ear. Sometimes it was like sliding down a rainbow to fairyland, full of fun and unbelievable blessing. It was the year I flew on an airplane for the first time by myself, and then got on three more planes, alone and changed. Where I got upgraded to first class when I shouldn’t have. Where I wrote another book, revised it into a thing I’m proud to call mine. It was the year I set out to write a screenplay and I succeeded.
But it was also the year my grandmother died. And her death forced my family to change.
It was the year I questioned everything.
It was the year where certain futures became impossible, where certain relationships became the past, where what seemed steady became shaky.
It was the year that I had to turn inside myself and find my own answers, and be okay with those answers, and trust my faith to carry me past all the questions, all the setbacks, all the loss — it is still carrying me.
And maybe that’s the ultimate answer. Being carried. Allowing yourself to breakdown. Taking the hand given to help you back up. Without that, we would be forced to declare darkness the winner. Yes, the world is filled with darkness, but I refuse to live in a world where it wins. I refuse to be altered by it. Instead, I choose to do whatever I can to alter it. I choose to let myself fall down, but not to stay down.
The kind of magic that exists in fantasy novels, the kind I write about and grew up pretending to wield — it doesn’t exist in this world. Real magic is an act of will, a step forward instead of back. Real magic is living, breathing, forgiving, loving without condition.
It is processing, large teacup in hand or not, and then it is moving forward. Forward is not about forgetting the past, or ignoring the problem. It is deciding not to accept more of the same.
2014 is nearly over. 2015 begins anew.