I did not enjoy January.
It was a month dominated by my conflicting urges to scream as loudly as possible and hide in heartbreaking silence. And that was just when I read the news.
It was a month filled with divisiveness and pain. Literally, I had the worst pain I’ve ever experienced when I threw my lower back out. Twice.
Lying awake at night because you are in pain does, at least, give you time to think.
And what I think is that the stress of the month has congealed into some kind of mutant pellet that’s lodged itself into my lowest vertebrae. “It’s locked up. We just have to get it to move again,” my chiropractor said yesterday as I whimpered in his office.
Locked up alright. Or maybe locked down is more appropriate.
People living in lockdown are angry, fearful, sad, and resentful. They want to get on with their lives, yet everything outside feels like a threat.
This is where February comes in.
We celebrate some wonderful things in February: hearts, love, black history, two of our greatest presidents. My 8-year-old son Max would add the Super Bowl to the list too, of course.
Still, I’ve never much liked the month. It’s cold with a weird number of days. The trees are bare. The possibility of snow and ice adds a constant element of unpredictability I don’t like.
But this year, February is my chance. It’s got to be.
So I’ve decided I want to do some things differently in February.
On a practical level, I want to not wrench my back again. I think I’ve identified the problem, so hopefully I can avoid it in the future.
But it isn’t just my pain. It’s a collective pain working its way through the country like some renegade scythe, slicing, tearing people apart in their hearts and minds. It’s emotional carnage on a grand scale.
It’s not like anything I’ve seen before.
I can’t keep getting sucked into arguments (literally and in my mind), getting angry, lashing out, cutting down the other side. I am glad my like-minded friends are fighting and marching and petitioning and raising serious hell. I respect it. It’s the work of democracy.
I just need to take a break from it.
At least for a month.
I’ve decided that in February, I will try to only put things out there that are about connection. That means either putting an idea out there that has to do with connection, or not putting it out there at all. That goes for social media, conversations, and pieces I write. It doesn’t mean avoiding everything divisive (as if I could). It means either reframing it, or walking away.
Come March, I can let out a torrent of expletives at everyone I’m pissed at and let them know exactly how misguided I think they are.
But I want to try 28 days of only channeling connection, empathy, heart, and understanding. I want to focus on where things join, not where they split.
So this piece, announcing my intention, is how I start.