Reflections on 2016: Lessons on Death & Fear
Well, it seems that everyone agrees that 2016 was a roller coaster of a year. There has been making changes with lots of ups and downs. It seems that death has been a common theme for 2016 as well. There has been a tremendous amount of loss in 2016. In my life, I lost a few friends and I know many others that lost people as well. The undergraduate school that I went to closed and my life in Burlington came to an closing. With all the death and loss, there has been some positives as well. Transitioning back to New Jersey has given me lots of time to reorganize my life a bit and figured out where I want to direct my energy. I’ve been honored to participate in some great trainings over the past year, made some awesome connections and friends, and have been working hard on a side podcasting project. With all the ups-and-downs 2016 has thrown at me, I am trying to approach it as a time for self-reflection as well as a time to cut ties with what has not been serving me. Growth requires loss.
Since death, loss, and fear have been major themes of this past year, I figured I would reflect on these concepts.
There has been a lot of fear provoked throughout the year. I do not even know where to start with this topic. The political climate is heavy. World powers and politics are clashing. ISIS and terrorist threats have been growing. The world has been watching many of the consequences of terroristic acts. Police shootings and mass public shootings have been rising. Racism among African American communities continue. The Native Americans are still getting their land taken away from them. The LGBQT community suffered a big loss this year with the shooting at the Pulse nightclub. Wars in the Middle East have been out of control. American politics are clashing with Trump being elected – exposing how divided the country really is. The U.S. is fearing Russia all over again. The list goes on and on.
This past year has really accelerated the collective fear. The fake news and propaganda definitely does not help this. It seems that things are spiraling out of control and everyone is trying to get a grip on it – just trying to make sense of it all.
Here is how I am making sense of it. The internet is making us all more connected. We are being exposed to so much more information at a higher rate. The internet, much like the mushroom’s mycelium network, is making us realize that we are all connected. The internet is serving as a way to tap into the collective unconscious, exposing each and every one of us to the shadow side of life. We are slowly beginning to wake up as we become more connected with clashing ideologies and beliefs -- there is going to be some friction. It is impossible not to experience friction when different cultures collide.
The fear and terror that we are experiencing is a sign that humans are beginning to slowly realize that we are not living in the small little bubble’s we thought we lived in. It is the growing pains of being exposed to what is not known and what is not familiar. Growth is uncomfortable and absolutely terrifying. With growth, we can either accept it and embrace it, or continue to fight it and rebel against it. We are rebelling against it right now. The fear of a changing world frightens us all deep down inside. So, will we continue to live in fear or can we work with the growing pains that the world is going through and help to create a better future for the children of the world? I'd like to think that we will soon stop fearing one another and start working together.
Death & Loss
Growth is not possible without shedding the old. Trees and plants shed limbs and leaves that are no longer useful and they direct their energy upward towards newer limbs. There has been a lot of death over the past year for many of us. Again, this feeds into our fear that we will all meet Death at some point – increasing our need for comfort and security. Instead, what would happen if you let go of the notion of comfort and security and embraced that Death is inevitable and part of life?
New Year’s Eve is always a difficult “holiday” for me because I suffered a near-death experience on New Year’s Eve. Every year, I often spent the day contemplating the fact that I made it another year. It amazes me that I am still here when my life almost ended 13 years ago, at the age of 16 years old.
There was a lot of loss this year. It has been very heartbreaking and sometimes difficult to process. I try to look at in a positive light. Life needs death to grow. We need to let go of some of the things that do not serve us anymore. I am not saying that the death of loved ones should be ignored and viewed as a positive thing, but rather acknowledging without the emotions we feel when we lose someone, we cannot move forward and grow. Death is a powerful teacher about Life.
If my near-death experience has taught me anything, it is that Death can tap on your shoulder at any moment it wishes. This life that we are granted is sacred and is a blessing. With all of the death and loss this year, it is a good reminder to appreciate life. It is important to appreciate the small things. To appreciate the fact that you are living and breathing. So many of us get caught up in the day-to-day drama and hustle and forget to take a moment and breathe. I know I forget to do this even though I am very aware of this sacred journey.
Do not let Death scare you. Do not let it stop you from achieving your goals and dreams. Do not let it set you back and become a victim. Let it inspire you. Let it instill you with hope and life. 2016 has been a nice reminder for me that even though there is a lot to be afraid of or upset about, some of it does not matter. Death does not care about your situation. If anything, this should be a motivator to get out there and do something with your life. This should be a reminder that the life is about creation just as much as it is about death. Get out there and create your life!
2017 & Beyond
If there is anything that 2016 has taught me, it is that it is time to stop playing the role of the victim and start taking ownership and accountability over my choices and actions. There is only one direction – forward. Over the past year, I let the death and loss of loved ones, the closing of my school, and the transition from VT to NJ affected me in so many different ways. It is only a natural response when your world crumbles in front of you – it is scary and honestly, just really confusing.
I’ve been feeling an energy build up inside of me lately. It is an energy that tells me to stop complaining, stop getting hung up on the past, and to just move on with life. 2016 has been making me realize that we only have so much time here and it should be lived fully. It reminds me that my voice, my words, my story, and all the wisdom inside of me can die today or tomorrow, without any warning. Someone once stated that a million great ideas are buried six feet deep each year. How much potential are you keeping inside of you and not sharing with the world? I know for myself, A LOT. What if you died tomorrow and did not get your ideas out to the world? Would you regret not acting upon them?
2017 for me is going to be about stepping into my role more – giving voice to my story and owning my power. It is also going to be about taking ownership and accountability over my life – to not let the little things bring me down. To work harder than I have before. To play a little more. To dance a little more. To laugh a little more. 2017 is going to be about living life more. Creating a new narrative to participate in. These old narratives that we hold onto are becoming heavy and too much to carry.
Let 2017 bring you light, love, and happiness. Let it fill your hearts with life. We all need to live a little more.