It is hard to believe, but this is my 1000th blog post. Since I first introduced my blog on June 27, 2011, I have read and reviewed over 800 books - fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry. I also have written a number of posts on politics and religion and other topics.
I would say that I have stayed true to my intention, which was to document my own learning process over the last decade. Reading older posts, I can see where I have changed over time. Some of the things that I see change in are my views on race - I have become much more aware of systemic racism and implicit bias - and in religion - I have undergone a lot of deconstruction in the last decade. It is also obvious that the books I have read have helped shape my opinions, and have opened my mind to different points of view.
These changes did not occur in a vacuum, of course. It is impossible to understand my journey without acknowledging the election of an open white supremacist to the presidency, or a pandemic that turned life upside down for everyone around the world.
Other, more personal matters have also affected me. Around the time I started this blog, the events that would eventually lead to the destruction of my relationship with my parents occurred. (More accurately, they made choices - and continued to double down - which predictably led to that destruction. The handwriting was on the wall by the time I started this blog.) In 2013, I would leave the Republican Party over its attempts to destroy the Affordable Care Act. (That was the final straw, but I had been uncomfortable by the increasing level of open racism and social darwinistic rhetoric for some time.) We would be forced out of our longtime church in 2017. (The signs of that were just beginning to show a decade ago, but things didn’t really turn until 2015.) One of my children would come out as LGBTQ in 2018. The way many people I know (and in some cases are related to) responded to the pandemic left me unable to continue to want them in my life. Between the denialism, the pushing of medical misinformation, and the accusations that medical professionals like my wife were faking covid deaths, I saw things I can’t unsee now about people.
I am not alone in this. I was talking with some friends recently, and so many of us are unsure exactly what our lives will look like post-pandemic (and post-Trump). We have reconsidered who we want in our lives after seeing what they have said and done over the last four years. It has been shocking how many people I thought I knew felt free to air their disgustingly racist opinions over the last few years. Trump emboldened them, apparently. I have been shocked at how many people shared conspiracy theories about Covid - particularly the lie that medical professionals are inflating Covid numbers. (My wife is an ICU nurse, so she has literally been on the front lines for the last 15 months. She has seen so much death. A lot more than usual, and a lot younger people than usual. So we have literally been living the truth. The lies are personal for us.) While I am not at the point of “do we even have any friends left anymore?” I have definitely felt the loss of my tribe. There is a long list of people I really do not have a desire to have in my life anymore. I cannot unhear what they said.
It truly feels that, over the last decade, I have lost my place in my extended family, my faith tradition, my country, and many of my former social circles.
This isn’t the future I envisioned ten years ago, obviously, but prognostication has never been particularly accurate. I certainly never expected that I would become unwelcome for refusing to be quiet about racism, misogyny, and hate. I naively thought my tribe were the good guys.
There have, of course, been a lot of good things that have happened in the last ten years too. The kids and I visited most of the national parks in the western United States. We have hiked well over a thousand miles. We saw the 2017 eclipse. I have chased birds with my camera. My kids have gone from littles to teens and one adult, and it has been a wonderful ride being a parent. Music has continued to be an important part of my life. We even managed some virtual concerts during the pandemic. My wife and I just celebrated twenty years of marriage. We made it through the pandemic to vaccination of adults and teens without getting sick. (Amanda is apparently phenomenal at avoiding catching stuff at work.) And, of course, I have enjoyed reading a lot of books.
A pandemic can certainly reveal truths about relationships as well. In the case of our marriage, we both found many reasons to be glad we had each other. With the pandemic keeping many of my clients at home, my income went down. But Amanda was needed to keep people alive, and so worked long hours during the Covid surges. I switched more of my time to household and schooling duties to compensate. And we both found ways to make everything work. We have never been more glad we eschewed “traditional” gender roles. The pandemic would have been utter hell for both of us emotionally - and we would probably have exhausted our savings and gone bankrupt.
I should also mention that I have found a number of friends through my blog, which has been a way to find a new tribe. This was an unexpected bonus, but certainly has helped me get through the last decade. The book club I have been part of has become my main social life (via Zoom) during the shutdown, and our vibrant discussions have kept me sane. (And introduced me to books I would not otherwise have discovered.) I also treasure the friends that have turned out to be as good as I had hoped. (You know who you are.)
If you are new to my blog, I encourage you to explore. This is a record of much of my journey of the last decade, told primarily through literature.